Walk against TB
The walk against TB took place on Wednesday May 22nd in Orheiul Vechi.
Together with students from the Universitatea de Stat de Medicina si Farmacie ,,Nicolae Testemitanu” din Chisinau (USMF) / Chisinau,TBnet organized this walk against TB to show the human face of TB.
TBnet was founded in 2006 and is an international organization which units TB specialists from all over the world but mostly Europe. TBnet runs many TB studies and projects and has its focus on TB in children, non-tuberculosis mycobacteria and TB research.
Students from the USMF helped as actors for all stations during that walk. It started at the bridge over the river Raut with showing the risk groups such as homeless people and mothers with children. It is known that these risk groups as well as prisoners, injective drug users and malnourished persons have a higher risk for TB than others.
Two students and some other students who walked around with a bubble maker to show visually that TB is transmitted through the air showed these risk groups.
Then the group passed the signs & symptoms station which was coughing, weight loss and fever / night sweat. The students again showed the symptoms by coughing, sweating and starving.
Next was the diagnosis station. The group saw chest x-ray pictures of TB patients and two students dressed as doctors checked the whole group with a stethoscope. Everybody was then diagnosed with TB and had to wear a facemask to avoid infecting others.
With these facemasks it was hard to breathe, especially as the way was uphill until the next station „treatment“. All group members got TB antibiotics, which was of course only sweets, but it showed very well the huge number of pills that TB patients on treatment have to take. Everybody got a small tin full of 20 pills. A patient with drug sensitive TB normally gets up to 20 pills daily so it was great showing the group what it means to take such a huge amount of pills every day.
As all participants were still wearing the masks, many discussions started if they were still infectious and if they had still to wear the masks. There was much interaction and discussion, which made the walk very lively.
After the treatment station the participants passed three adverse event stations such as sickness, vision defect / hearing loss and hepatitis. The student actors acted really well so that much discussion concerning the treatment and what to do started.
After the last adverse event station the group reached the hill close to a little chapel. There the group was divided into those who died because of treatment failure or ineffective treatment or incompliance and those who received the right treatment regime and were able to go ahead.
The way from the chapel to the monastery was the hardest part of this walk as the group already saw the monastery but there where hills and stones on the way. It was like the real treatment procedure with all problems and hurdles because many patients want to stop treatment when they feel better but then the hardest parts starts, the part when they have to take the pills until the end, which can be up to 20 months and more although they feel much better. But when they stop treatment then, the risk for relapse is very high.
Most oft he group members reached the monastery which was the healing / cure station. They all got colourful scarves and flags and were allowed to remove the facemasks. Then discussions began again, the „dead“ patients were picked up and they discussed how it feels to get the wrong treatment or be a XDR patient with no chance of healing.
The walk showed very well how TB feels as a patient and how hard it is to go through the treatment course. It showed as well all the problems connected with side effects and how important it is to be compliant and to follow the treatment until the end.