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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.

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Many patients who have been discharged from hospital and continue their treatment for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in outpatient settings or their caregivers come at the end of each month to the TB dispensaries to receive the social vouchers worth 80 Lei per month. In August, we went to the Outpatient Health Facility on Salcâmilor Street to ask patients how they cope with their disease.

Ionuț Dumitru, 41, retired due to disease.
“Every day I experience the same symptoms, vertigo, nausea. When it’s hot outside, it’s terrible. The only thing that motivates me to keep taking the treatment is the fear of giving the disease to someone else, in particular at home. For me, the effects of the treatment are a nightmare. And there, in the hospital, I saw fellow patients throwing the drugs away. I’m better, because I’m at home I don’t have to put up with the stress in the hospital. My income is 460 Lei, it’s not enough for anything. With the vouchers I can buy about 15 % of all that I need.”

Mihaela Andrei, 47, mother of a 20-year old woman diagnosed with MDR TB in June
“On Easter, in April, she coughed and told me she felt a taste of blood in her mouth. We both thought that it was from a tooth, because otherwise she had no symptoms. Then, a month later, the fever started. We don’t know where she took it from, it’s true that she used the metro and the trolley bus to go to college, but she always hanged around kids from good families. She is in great pain, her whole body hurts, especially the soles of her feet. We use the vouchers for vegetables and fruits. Every day I make her beet, celery or carrot juices. Her emotional state is poor, she is always crying. Now she is in her third college year but she missed the summer exam session and, as a result, she lost her state-subsidised tuition.”

Mirela Stamate, 43, wife of patient diagnosed with MDR for the second time
“He has had this problem for many years, ever since he was in prison, which is where he got sick in the first place. The disease relapsed seven years ago because his immune system is weak. He underwent surgery for stomach cancer and he also has two herniated discs. I was also ill twice, but my system is better and I haven’t had problems that needed medication. We have two pensions that together amount to 600 lei. We work sometimes, I clean people’s houses and he repairs sockets or water taps from time to time. We also have a 15-year old daughter. We keep on giving her immuno-stimulants and medicines so that she doesn’t get sick. For us, the vouchers are really helpful.”

*The names in this issue are fictional; we decided to change them at the patients’ request.