My struggle with TB, the creation of an advocate
The name Steve Anguva is quite common in TB circles, but few know how it all begun to get him emerged neck-dip to TB work. Stop TB Partnership visited him to unearth Steve and his interest in TB advocacy.
He was born and raised in Kangemi up by a single mother together with his siblings. His parents separated in 1999. In 2006, he did his KCPE but could not proceed to secondary school due to financial problems. He took up manual labor around Kangemi to support himself and the family. He managed to sit later on for his KCSE as a private candidate.
In 2009 January, he started developing chest pains, night sweats, and coughs. At this time he was working as a water vendor during the day and a bar attendant in the evening. He visited private facilities and even herbalists at one point, but no specific diagnosis was made despite spending a lot of money.
By May the same year, he had started coughing blood, by June, he had lost 15kgs, was too weak and now supporting himself with a walking stick.
“I had violent coughs, coughing like a generator”, “He quips jokingly.
During this period he was on very strong antibiotics, which were not helping the situation. One of his friends suggested that he should be tested for TB. He visited the Westlands Health Centre and was prescribed the Direct Sputum smear microscopy. This involved giving a sputum sample on the spot and then another sample of sputum the first thing in the morning and another one when he delivered the sputum to the health facility. They called it Spot Morning Spot (SMS) three-specimen approach.
When he brought the Morning sample the following day, on a Thursday, he was confirmed to have tuberculosis. He was referred to the Kangemi Health Centre for treatment. That evening, he broke the news to his mother, who couldn’t believe it. On Friday morning, she left him some money to go for a chest x-ray instead of accompanying him to Kangemi Health-center as he did not know where it was. In anger and frustration, Steve tore the money to pieces.
On Saturday, he was forcefully taken to Amurt Healthcare and a chest X-ray was done which confirmed Pleural effusion. This is a condition where too much fluid had collected in the lung-parts and was being caused by tuberculosis. Once again, Steve was referred to Kangemi Health Centre. The mother could still not believe it and blamed it on witch-craft and a curse to the family, leading to the mother chasing him away from home to go and look for his father and the step-family who according to her had be-witched him. Steve had no choice but find his way of survival. He moved in with the close friend who had earlier on suggested the TB test. The friend was working and could only provide him with food and shelter, but he had to take care of himself during the day.
Within that month, the medication was effective and he was slowly recovering and robust enough to fend for himself. Through the grapevine the mother got wind that Steve was now on his feet again. She could not believe it as according to her; she had left him for the dead. After an apology from the mother and moments of reconciliation, Steve moved back home. The whole family under-went a sputum test to detect TB infection, but all of them turned out negative.
He completed the treatment and could now work to support himself. During his recovery period, a thought struck his mind. “Why couldn’t he form a group of TB patients to encourage one another and financially support those who were too weak?” This is how Pamoja TB group was born and most importantly Steve’s undying commitment as a TB Advocate. His experience had taught him that TB diagnosis and treatment is a stressful period emotionally and a support group is important .This led to the formation of the PAMOJA TB Group.
By Mercy Karumba