UNDP empowers communities to treat TB in Burkina
18-year-old Mouniratou in Bobo-Dioulassou is happiness itself. Two weeks ago she took her last pill, putting an end to a six-month long treatment for tuberculosis, still a major public health problem in Burkina Faso. More than 2700 new cases were reported in 2008.
“I was so ill that I could not even walk by myself to my first meeting with the doctor. I was convinced that I would die, but I have received great support and I am so glad to be alive.” says Mouniratou and gives a big hug to the community worker Djeneba Baro.
The two women got to know each other through a UNDP-sponsored TB community care project. Through this project, UNDP has trained civil society organizations to do the things that the medical service does not have the means or the time to do, such as assuring that patients adhere strictly to their treatment. In fact, the latter represents one of the most compelling challenges in combating the disease.
“We used to have many people who did not turn up for treatment, but no possibilities to look for missing patients. In this respect, the collaboration with community associations respond to a great need.” says Ablasse Sakande, nurse and responsible for TB treatments in Bobo-Dioulasso.
Most of the TB patients in the country belong to already vulnerable groups. There are people who suffer from extreme poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy and sometimes HIV/AIDS .they do not have the means to be cured. Many find it difficult to take medicine as prescribed, others stop their treatment when they begin to feel better when in fact, inconsistent or partial treatment can cause drug-resistance.
Thanks to the TB community care project, a nationwide network of community associations has been set up to support patients during the treatment. Since the start in 2005, more than 5,300 people have benefitted from community services. For instance, community workers, like Djeneba Baro, assist patients in understanding what they need to do to get well. The community workers pay them regular visits.
“As soon as there are patients who do not turn up at the clinic, I go to see them in their homes. Often there are natural explanations as to why they do not show up. They may be too ill and many do not have the means to pay for the transport”, says Djeneba Baro who has a long roster of names of patients that she visits on a regular basis.
As a result of this initiative, successful treatment in Burkina Faso has risen considerably, from 60 % in 2000 to 72 % in 2007. Evaluations show that patients who have benefitted from at least three home visits during their treatment recover better and quicker than those who have not had access to community service support.
There are other important factors that explain the positive results in the fight against TB in Burkina Faso, such as the financial contributions from the Global Fund to Fight Tuberculosis, the decentralization of diagnosis and treatment and the monthly distribution of food to TB patients by the World Food Programme.
The TB care project is managed by a UNDP programme of support to communities known under its French acronym PAMAC (“Programme d’Appui au Monde Associatif et Communautaire”). The programmecoordinates and empowers community-based initiatives in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Burkina Faso. PAMAC was initiated by UNDP in 2003 on request from the National Aids Council. PAMAC is currently financed by UNDP and other international and bilateral partners.”