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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.

Marian Istrate is 41 years old, lives in Bucharest and in April 2015 was hospitalized at the “Marius Nasta” Pulmonology Institute in Bucharest, with the diagnostic of multidrug resistant tuberculosis. He left at home his wife and their 19 years old daughter who just had the bachelor degree exam, worried that there are chances he would have given them the Koch bacillus. In an interview conducted in his room from “Marius Nasta” Institute, Istrate told us how he ended up being diagnosed with tuberculosis and what his hopes for the future are.

“I don’t know, I have several problems, and the most important is Crohn’s disease, which I have been fighting for 10 years now. (ed.: Chron’s is a chronic inflammatory disease, localized in the digestive tract wall). Because of this disease I had a stroke, trombophlebitis, there were several things linked to each other. Then some biologic treatments for the Chron’s disease appeared and the doctors proposed to follow them.

Thus, as I ended up doing all sorts of investigations in hospitals, in 2007 they discovered I had pleurisy. Then, in 2013, they noticed a spot on the right superior lobe of the lungs and the doctors told me I had TB. I followed 1st line treatment, except that the spot didn’t become larger, but it didn’t shrink also. And I thought to myself: if I cut my finger, then it swallows, it gets infected or it heals. But in my case the spot remained there, even after the treatment.

I took the TB treatment for 6 months, plus the biologic treatment for my disease and it went ok. I used to go to Fundeni, but I wasn’t hospitalized, I was going twice a month and get a dose every two weeks. And at the end of last year they changed my treatment with an intravenous one. I had only two doses and during New Years Eve, in December 2014, I had fever, chills. It passed after 2-3 days or so and, after about half a month, I thought I should go to the hospital to see what’s going on.

I had an X-ray and they told me I had a tumour. And I had to have a bronchoscopy done afterwards and it didn’t turn out to be TB, cancer, or any tumour, but some sort of pneumonia. I was put for 20 days on Cefort iv treatment, and in the sputum sample didn’t appear anything. In March, they put me on 1st line treatment, but the spot remained. By end of April, a lady doctor calls me, telling they did the drug sensitivity test and that it turned out multidrug resistant tuberculosis. “Wouldn’t I better go and buy a coffin?” I said to myself.

On 29 April I was hospitalized. It is suspected that I took it (ed. the bacillus) from somewhere in a hospital. At least 2 month I’ll stay here at “Nasta”. To my surprise, I coped with the treatment, although I was afraid I couldn’t do it. As a patient here, one begins to get used with the idea of the disease, of tuberculosis, of severe diagnostic. I still have bad nausea, sometimes I even feel sick to drink water. It has to pass, you end up saying to yourself.”


Marian Istrate is only one of the thousands of patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in Romania, to whom the lack of high performance methods of rapid and correct diagnosis of the disease made loose precious time. Two years – the time when Marian was incorrectly treated for sensitive tuberculosis – represent a period when multidrug resistant tuberculosis would have been cured, with the proper and timely initiated medication.

Access to rapid diagnostic, thanks to the high-end equipment procured through the project “Improving the Health Status of the Romanian Population in Romania by Increasing Tuberculosis Control” allows receiving the diagnostic in very short time (from few hours up to few days) and beginning the correct treatment, offering the patients like Marian Istrate the chance to be cured and have a normal life.

*Marian Istrate is a fictional name; we decided to change it at the patient’s request.