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Zimbabwe gears up for world TB day

Zimbabwe gears up for world TB day

Story by Abigirl Tembo

IN the lead-up to World Tuberculosis Day set for Sunday, TB survivors are stepping forward to raise awareness about the disease and the importance of early treatment and adherence to medication.

The Zimbabwe Network of TB Survivors is taking a proactive approach, forming support groups across the country.

The groups are meant to raise awareness about TB, a public health emergency that is still claiming lives in Zimbabwe.

“I was diagnosed with TB in 2010 and I was put on medication at one point I weighed 35 kg. I had no appetite. But if you religiously take your tablets you will survive. Some people thought I would die. I stayed with two people who had TB,” said one of the survivors.

Another added, “TB is a very painful disease, especially to those in denial. Some time back when I got treated for TB it was really difficult because I was taking a lot of pills at once. Sometimes we would even hide the pills because it was difficult to swallow more than 10 pills at once. This was in 2006. From 2010 the TB never recurred till now. Once you get diagnosed please get treatment.”

“I was diagnosed with TB in 2011. When I was diagnosed with TB my husband deserted me. My life was now painful. My mother then took me to her home and I managed to take my pills for 8 months,” said another survivor.

Network chairperson, Stanley Sibanda highlights the group’s mission.

“Our job and task is to end TB by 2030 that’s our main objective. We are forming support groups across the country to help track defaulters. TB is the number one killer in HIV-infected people. So, we are raising awareness among community members to end stigma. We are urging people to get tested early because TB can be cured. Reason we formed these support groups it’s because there are a lot of people who are contracting TB so we help our peers. There is also drug-resistant TB and multi-drug resistant TB,” he said.

Sister Chipo Dekwe, the TB focal person for Chitungwiza district, welcomes advancements in treatment.

“We are saying let’s end TB by 2030. People used to take 17 tablets per day but now we are happy that now people are now taking fewer tablets. TB is a highly contagious disease so we are urging people to observe proper hygiene and always ensure windows are open. We are saying TB can be treated. We need to join hands and fight this disease especially now that we have the fixed combination where the pills have been combined into one pill,” she said.

With World TB Day approaching, survivor stories serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of early diagnosis, adherence to treatment and community support in achieving the goal of ending TB by 2030

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