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Improving the health of the population in Romania by increasing TB control

Project financed by the Norwegian Grants 2009 - 2014, within the RO 19 - Public Health Initiative.

“I am not as strong as before, yet I drag myself along”

Ioana (45) comes from Mediaș and she suffers from extensive resistant tuberculosis. In March, she was hospitalized along with her daughter (14) also a MDR suspect. Should the suspicion be confirmed, her daughter will become one of the patients included in the project “Improving the Health Status of the Romanian Population through the Increase of the TB Control Capacity”.

“Last year I spent 9 months here. I am unfit to work, but I am glad I can cook, clean and help my daughter. We can barely make ends meet from my pension and her survivor’s benefit. We limit ourselves to what we have. We live in a studio where we have what we need. We are poor, but we can afford to pay for the heating and to buy food.

When I was 19 years old, I suffered from drug-sensitive tuberculosis. I have had two relapses since then and, in the third, the doctors diagnosed me with MDR. When I was little, I had once a sore throat so severe that I could no longer speak, and when I enrolled at the university, they did some X-rays. ‘No file, no university – the hospital’, they told me. After me and my husband divorced, I had a relapse, my immune system was weakened, and I keep telling myself it was nerve-related.

My eldest boy’s father, who also has TB, died in 1995 of TB and we still do not know what kind of TB it was. One of my husband’s brothers also died of TB. His mother and sister had no idea what drugs he was taking. When the doctor learned that I had MDR-TB, he told me that I got it from my husband.

He hardly followed his treatment.

I had a 12 hours a day job and I neglected my diet. I worked as a clothes manufacturer. I finished post-secondary school, I was in the Technical Quality Control for a while and then I was somewhat of a shift manager. I have not worked since 2007. Until 2008, I was on first-line therapy. It was in 2008 that the doctors in Mediaş considered testing me to see whether I was resistant to drugs. The tests showed I was resistant to two drugs and they kept me there for another 4 months. When my child got sick, I did not leave him in Mediaş, instead I took him to Sibiu and later to Bucharest.

His condition is improving.

I am feeling so-so now. I am not as strong as before, yet I drag myself along. My daughter is in the 8th grade and she wants to go to the military high school so she had to do some tests. There was something wrong with her lungs. The doctors still do not know what it is, but they suspect she got it from us.

We were not alarmed because she was feeling well and ate well. She is a good student and she wants to study mathematics and computer science, however she can no longer enrol at the military high school. We have been in hospital for almost a month now, but we are to go home soon.

When I was ill and I could not manage on my own, my mother and my daughter would help me, and we would help each other. We are used to living on our own, just the two of us.