When Yousra, age 11, came to the hospital in Karachi, Pakistan with tuberculosis (TB), it was hard to trace where she had contracted the disease. In just her immediate neighborhood, at least seven people in three different households were undergoing treatment for TB. Yousra herself was already in her fourth month of TB treatment, but she was not getting better. Her cough, fever and weight loss were persisting. Weak and unwell, she came to the public hospital.
Yousra’s new doctors suspected drug-resistant TB (DR-TB). After the lengthy two months required to do drug susceptibility testing, Yousra’s TB was found to be a drug-resistant strain. She was finally started on treatment for her DR-TB.
Due to a lack of pediatric formulations of her medications, her treatment has been taxing, both physically and emotionally. She has trouble swallowing cycloserine, one of her new medications, and has a very difficult time receiving painful daily injections of one of the other drugs. Despite the headaches, nausea and vomiting her medications cause, Yousra nobly persists on her treatment course: “I wish I didn’t have to take so many medications, they make me feel weak and nauseous, but I am finally improving after starting the right medicines. I will do anything to make them taste better and will take them responsibly.”