One-on-One with TB Advocate; Naomi Wanjiru
Interviewer: Tell me about yourself.
Naomi: I am a Naomi Wanjiru, a nurse by profession and a mother of two kids. I currently work at a health facility in a TB/HIV clinic in Nyandarua County. I am also a TB survivor and advocate.
Interviewer: When did you first get exposed to TB? (affected/ infected)
Naomi: In 2009, I was deployed to work in Comprehensive Care Centre (CCC)/TB clinic as a nurse where I was in constant contact with TB clients. In April 2010, I started experiencing symptoms of TB and after getting tested, I was diagnosed with spinal TB.
Interviewer: What was your biggest challenge during this period?
Naomi: I was in denial that this had really happened to me considering all the information I had about TB. I also faced stigma from the community.
Interviewer: How did your brush with TB change/impact your life?
Naomi: It was a blessing in disguise. At first everyone would talk negatively about me having TB. I had a hard time disclosing to anyone that I had TB, but after winning the Kochon award, I accepted my condition and became at peace with it. I gained confidence to even talk about it and encourage others in a similar situation.
Interviewer: How did you get involved in TB advocacy?
Naomi: After winning the Kochon award, I became public about my real life experience with TB. I still work in TB clinic where I share my story to encourage and inspire them. I have also done it on media through newspaper, radio and T.V.
I attend school health programmes and during Sunday services once in a while I do talk to the congregation about TB.
Interviewer: What message do you have for people infected/ affected by TB?
Naomi: To the infected patients, accept to take medication to the last tablet to prevent getting Multi-Drug Resistant-Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) or even complications associated with TB. Adherence is key.
To the affected, offer support to the infected. TB does not know gender, tribe, race, social status; everyone in the world breathes the same air and anyone can get infected.
Interviewer: Final remarks?
Naomi: Early diagnosis is the key, seek medical advice in case you have any sign and symptoms of TB.
Again, do not let stigma affect you though it is still high in the community, just be strong enough to walk the path. Let’s unite to end TB by 2030 for it is possible if we cooperate and unite.
Thank you for sharing your story Naomi!
By: Njango Njung’e