Hope for erad­i­cat­ing TB emerges in Peru slum

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Now half­way through his treat­ment for tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, Wil­liam Cam­pos, 49, is start­ing to imag­ine a healthy life again. “I want to walk again, to work again. I want to get up in the morn­ing, get on a bus and head to the coun­try­side,” Cam­pos said from his bed be­neath a sheet-draped win­dow in the shan­ty­town Carabayllo, one of the poor­est dis­tricts in Peru’s cap­i­tal, Lima. A clothes ven­dor be­fore fall­ing ill, Cam­pos is one of at least 30,000 Peru­vians in­fected with tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, an an­cient disease that killed 1.8 mil­lion glob­ally last year - more than AIDS-re­lated and malaria deaths com­bined.

Cam­pos is also part of a low-bud­get pi­lot pro­gram that aims to erad­i­cate tu­ber­cu­lo­sis from the poor­est cor­ners of the world, where it con­tin­ues to thrive de­spite be­ing cur­able. In places like Villa Esper­anza, or Vil­lage of Hope, a neigh­bor­hood in Carabayllo where clus­ters of pas­tel-col­ored homes cling to dusty hills, the prob­lem is in­ad­e­quate health ser­vices to help pa­tients fol­low through with treat­ment, which takes six months to a cou­ple years.

Part­ners in Health (PIH), a Bos­ton-based non-profit that works with Peru’s health min­istry, of­fers a sim­ple so­lu­tion. It trains com­mu­nity vol­un­teers to tend to tu­ber­cu­lo­sis pa­tients in their homes, mak­ing sure they take medicine daily and help­ing them nav­i­gate the public health bu­reau­cracy. The vol­un­teers, nearly all women al­ready ac­tive in the com­mu­nity, have proven bet­ter at find­ing peo­ple with tu­ber­cu­lo­sis than white-coated health pro­fes­sion­als, said Dr Leonid Lecca, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of PIH in Peru. Guadalupe Quispe, 61, has treated some eight pa­tients as a vol­un­teer in her neigh­bor­hood, where the stigma of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis can cost peo­ple jobs and re­la­tion­ships. The po­si­tion does not pay, but Quispe said it has other re­wards. She pointed to a small house on a slanted street where she once per­suaded a young woman cough­ing up blood to get treat­ment. The woman would have likely died oth­er­wise. “Af­ter she got bet­ter, she went to school. And now she’s a nurse. When I think of her, I feel happy,” Quispe said. So far, no tu­ber­cu­lo­sis pa­tient in PIH’s yearand-a-half-old pro­gram has dropped out, a key chal­lenge in slow­ing the spread of dru­gre­sis­tant forms of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis that re­sult from un­fin­ished treat­ment, said Lecca.

‘I have hope’

Peru is home to the high­est rates of mul­tidrug re­sis­tant tu­ber­cu­lo­sis in the Amer­i­cas, but one in four pa­tients in the An­dean coun­try give up on treat­ment be­cause the medicine needed to kill the bac­te­ria have such har­row­ing side ef­fects, Lecca said. “Some medicines change the color of your skin, some cause bouts of psy­chosis,” Lecca said. “Pa­tients need to be ac­com­pa­nied through this process.” Quispe vis­its Cam­pos ev­ery day.

XIANRENDAO, LIAON­ING, China: A man throw­ing salt onto jel­ly­fish in or­der to pickle them in Xianrendao next to Yingkou City in China’s north­east­ern Liaon­ing prov­ince. —AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.