Adhra – Tanzania

The name of the child in this story has been changed to protect confidentiality.

Adhra was diagnosed with DR-TB at age nine, but her family could not afford to transport her to the nearest hospital that could treat her, which was overcrowded. As a result, Adhra’s initiation of treatment was delayed. Adhra’s grandmother had recently died of MDR-TB before receiving the results of the drug-susceptibility test.

Five months later, when room opened up at the hospital, Adhra was subject to compulsory hospitalization during the intensive phase of her treatment. She will be discharged to complete the 12-month continuation phase at home. Adhra is responding well to treatment, but feels isolated and depressed  being away from her family.

Her doctors note how lucky Adhra was to be able to produce sputum and thus get a relatively quick diagnosis; many children have a hard time producing sputum, which either delays DR-TB confirmation or makes it impossible. Adhra’s formal education has been put on hold while she finishes treatment. She struggles to tolerate the drugs she must take, which are toxic and not available in child-friendly formulations.

Adhra had an unreliable food supply at home and was not receiving adequate nutrition that is essential for recovery and successful treatment. Adhra has requested to stay at the hospital until her treatment is complete, even though this will prolong her time away from her family. The hospital has been trying to find an organization near Adhra’s home that can arrange nutritional support, which would allow Adhra to finish her treatment at home with her family.

Story Collected by: Dr. Kisonga Riziki, Kibong’oto National TB Hospital, Tanzania; UCSF consultants; USAID – PATH Tanzania Team Ministry of Health and Social Welfare – National TB Program