Tuberculosis, often called TB, is a disease caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that commonly affects the lungs.
Symptoms may include sickness, weariness, weight loss, fever, night sweats, coughing, chest pain, and coughing up blood. These symptoms may be mild for many months.
TB is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings in close proximity to another person who then inhales the infected water droplets.
TB is preventable. Methods include;
- Using cough etiquette
- Using masks
- Treating current cases
- Ventilating houses
- Preventing Latent TB cases from progressing to Active TB
- The use of the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine for child protection.
TB is curable. It can be treated by taking several drugs for 6-12 months. For the best results, patients must take the medication for the whole duration prescribed.
Chat Ratana is an 11-year old student. She is in 6th grade and loves Khmer language class. She lives with her four siblings and her grandmother. Her parents have to work in Phnom Penh to support the family.
For over a year, Chat was sick with fever and pain whilst swallowing and breathing. Her grandmother, Lu Wun, felt worried and helpless because she could not help take the pain away.
Chat was found by a community Seed worker through KHANA’s ‘Snowball Project’. She was diagnosed with extra-pulmonary lymph node tuberculosis and Dengue fever. Subsequently, she received access to treatment. Chat has completed 2 months of treatment, with 4 more months to go. Chat and her grandmother expressed their relief and gratitude after being given treatment at no cost.
During Chat’s good days, she is able to attend school and play with her friends. On bad days, Chat is fatigued and has to stay home. Chat and her family are excited for Chat to complete treatment.
Pin Saveun is a 67-year-old grandmother with four children, the youngest being 28. She lives with her daughter who has midwifery experience, but visits her youngest daughter and her family by the edge of the province where she enjoys the fresh air and breeze. Her grandson takes her to and from her daughters’ homes.
Over a few weeks, Pin began experiencing difficulty passing stools and pain in her legs when walking. She was diagnosed with the early stages of TB through mobile case finding (sent by the Lay counselor), and was able to assume treatment straight away. As of writing, she has been in treatment for 3 months, and has 3 more months of treatment remaining. The Lay Counselors visit her regularly to monitor her health (eg. taking blood pressure and measuring blood glucose), and reporting back to the health centers.
Her treatment path has not been without its difficulties. Her initial medications produced side effects including dermatitis, joint pain, muscle pain, blood in the urine, and fatigue. However, over time, Pin has begun to feel better, and knows she must persevere with treatment if she hopes to cure the disease.
Pin is grateful for the support of the councilor, who was has given her encouragement and has helped her manage her side effects. With the encouragement of the healthcare community as well as her family, she wishes to get better soon so she can return to the Pagodas and pray. Her dream is to one day move to the edge of the village with her daughter, so she can enjoy the fresh air and breeze.