Matar – Senegal

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

Matar’s uncle was previously treated twice for TB, but both these treatments failed to cure him. To escape stigma from his own family, Matar’s uncle moved to the religious town where Matar’s family lives and sought out care from a traditional healer. Matar is one of seven children and the only boy. During his uncle’s stay, Matar shared a bed with him and his doctors believe that this close contact resulted in Matar’s TB infection. Matar’s uncle died in September 2009.

Two months after his uncle’s death, Matar, 18 years old at the time, began experiencing symptoms of TB. He was first diagnosed in November 2009 and started receiving a supervised regimen of first-line drugs. Eight months later, in July 2010, Matar’s condition was not improving and his doctors determined that Matar was suffering from DR-TB.  Drug susceptibility testing confirmed that Matar’s strain of TB was resistant to rifampicin, isoniazid, streptomycin, and ethambutol.

Matar lived far from the nearest treatment center, where he would have had to travel daily to receive treatment. Matar’s family was able to find accommodations for Matar closer to the treatment center, but second-line drugs were not available for Matar to initiate treatment right away and his condition worsened. Many treatment sites in Senegal are inexperienced in managing DR-TB. Unfortunately for Matar, in 2010, in an effort to improve program monitoring, the Green Light Committee set a limit for Senegal on the number of patients recruited for DR-TB treatment at each site. Recruitment for the first cohort of DR-TB patients was already complete, and Matar would have to wait for the next round.  Matar, only 19 years old, died in April 2011 while waiting to be treated as part of the second cohort of DR-TB patients.

Story Collected by: Momar Talla Mbodji, MD, Plan International, Senegal