Learning How to Cough Around Drug-Resistant TB
Medecins Sans Frontiers counselor, Rano Safarova, tries to teach a group of children near Vose, Tajikistan, how to stop the spread of tuberculosis in their homes. Several members of this extended family have active TB including the 66-year-old grandmother, who’s the matriarch of the clan. The youngest victim in the family is a 4-year-old boy, who’s been left partially paralyzed and unable to speak from TB meningitis.
The grandmother refuses to accept that TB spreads through the air. She insists that the 4-year-old got it from swimming in a cold river.
“I have several concerns with this family,” says MSF nurse Tina Martin during a visit to the family’s cluster of mud-walled houses in southern Tajikistan. “Mostly I’m concerned with the level of education, the lack of understanding of what TB is and how it’s transmitted. This is highly concerning. This is a very close family. They live together, eat together, sleep together. And as TB is airborne transmission the family is reinfecting each other over and over.”
MSF is working to try to improve TB treatment for children in the Central Asian nation, particularly children infected with drug-resistant strains of the bacteria.
Photos: Jason Beaubien, NPR