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TB&Me: "Anyone can get TB"

Vasyl isn't the only member of his family to have TB - his father sadly died of the disease. Now Vasyl is in treatment too. He shares his experience and his determination...

TB patient Vasyl is treated by the MSF team in Ukraine

I come from the Carpathian region, Western Ukraine. Now I live in Romaniv, Zhytomyr region. I moved here to be more independent from my parents and to work with one of my brothers.

I’m a construction worker and I decided to build my house here. I’ve been working on improving it for the last ten years.

I had tuberculosis (TB) for the first time in 2005 when I was still in Western Ukraine. Almost three years ago, my father died of TB after suffering treatment side-effects and this was a very tough period for me. Last December, I was again diagnosed with TB.

I spent two and half months in the TB hospital and I was discharged in February, a bit before the COVID-19 lockdown started in Ukraine, to continue treatment in outpatient care. During the period in the hospital, I was supported by a psychologist on a regular basis.

Due to the restrictions related to the pandemic, I’m at home. I continue working on improvements to my house. I feel a bit of fatigue, so I have some limitations, but apart from that I do everything. And I take care of my kids. I have five children – one is at university and lives in another city, but all the others spend the day with me as they don’t have classes now.

My wife continues going to her work and she is responsible for picking up my medicines in the health facility once a week. She doesn’t even show me the drugs, but gives me the pills daily. I totally rely on her caring for me.

An MSF nurse and social workers call me on a weekly basis to ask how I feel. The nurse also visits me once a month to check how I am and she brings me a food parcel.

All my family and friends know I’m on treatment. Nothing changed in my relationships with them. Anyone can get TB. What you need to do is to take your treatment. I am confident I will overcome this situation.

 

Médecins Sans Frontières works in partnership with the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and Zhytomyr Regional TB Dispensary to provide effective treatment for people suffering from drug-resistant TB. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a need to adapt our approach. Instead of having all the medication at the dispensary, drugs are now delivered to local facilities, and mental health support has been provided mainly via phone. We have expanded awareness-raising activities for all our patients and staff, providing them with information on how to prevent the virus, and we increased infection control measures for our teams and in the TB hospital. The TB programme has kept on enrolling on average four patients per week, exactly as before the pandemic.

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