TB AND THE YOUTH- The Myths
TB is not curable!” retorted the twenty-something old man. “It killed my cousin after we had invested so much seeking his treatment,” continued the somehow agitated man, seemingly still devastated by the loss. This was in response to my question on what he knew about TB.
I was engaging him to understand the level of TB awareness among the youth. This was during the just concluded Hands on the Future TVET Conference and Kenya Sills Show; TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training). The event was supported by USAID among other partners and it brought together technical and vocational training institutions from across the country.
During this event, it emerged that there are still a lot of myths about TB among the youths. Some believed that TB was a genetic disease and that it could be transmitted through sharing utensils with an infected person. Disturbingly, one man even narrated how a neighbour refused to take his son for TB treatment because he believed that it was caused by witchcraft.
The myth about TB especially among the youths is a clear indication of a gap in information. From the interactions with them, it is clear that we all ought to do more to ensure that everyone has true and accurate information about TB.
The two-day event also attracted the general public amongst them a significant number of former TB patients, who had suffered TB and gotten cured. They all admitted that the period of illness and treatment took a toll on them and required inner strength and determination to beat TB. The stories of these victors are an indication that we can beat TB, not just by curing it but also by preventing it.
Defeating TB is the best thing we can do not only for our generation but also for the next. The various skills and talents showcased at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) during the skills show, need to be backed up by good health for a more productive generation. It is not enough to be well trained, skilled and talented if the ghost of diseases such as TB still haunts us. We all have no option but to end TB. It can be done, it has to be done!
Stop TB Partnership took the opportunity to reach out to the many young people attending the show with information on tuberculosis (TB). The youth are within the age bracket most affected by TB according to the country data.
The interest of the youth in matters TB and their willingness to learn was very noticeable. The youth we interacted with had some information about TB, though incomplete and incorrect. There is, therefore, a need to invest in similar and varied platforms to pass the correct information which will translate to behaviour change thereby preventing new infections of TB and promoting early and prompt diagnosis and treatment.