Martin – Tanzania
Martin’s parents are not sure how he contracted TB. He is from a middle-class family and uses private transport to go to school, to church, and shopping. Martin played at home with few other children, and when he got sick, he went to a private hospital.
In 2011 Martin was diagnosed with TB. He completed the intensive phase of his treatment at home before returning to school, where he continued his treatment, under the supervision of a nurse. However, Martin’s condition worsened. He eventually admitted to poor adherence to his treatment because the pills tasted bitter and gave him an upset stomach. Martin eventually had a test result that showed he had DR-TB and was referred to a hospital for further management. The approach used in Tanzania is that all confirmed DR-TB cases are hospitalized for the intensive phase of treatment.
Martin is responding well to DR-TB treatment, but he still experiences severe joint pain, for which he is taking medication. The pain is sometimes so bad that it is difficult for him to walk. His family is alarmed by the fact that their child is suffering from this disease even though they are well off; this belies the common perception in their community that TB is a disease that only affects the poor.
Martin’s doctors would like to see improvements in timely TB and DR-TB diagnosis at private hospitals in Tanzania. Many patients die at private facilities, a result of late or missed diagnosis. They note that it is also important to raise public awareness that the risk of TB is not limited to poor communities or individuals. High school and university students in particular should be made aware of the way TB is transmitted, because they are part of an age group with high risk of getting sick with TB.