Stories

Fifty-three year old Vuyisile Makabeni is gaunt and haggard and too ill to work. His cheeks cave in as he describes his various experiences with TB. Each time he has started treatment, he stops as soon as he begins to improve. Like thousands of other South Africans, Vuyisile has yet to complete the six-month course required for a cure and therefore contributes to the country's low cure rates.

After the birth of their first child, this young mother started losing weight, coughing uncontrollably, and battling constant fatigue-the classic symptoms of tuberculosis. Her husband, a day laborer, tried to find treatment for her, but they were living in a remote rural village where a handful of trained doctors serve the entire province. Health care is provided by healers with no medical education, so the couple sought help from many healers with no training in TB diagnosis and treatment.

As he bicycles past his neighbors, the young man waves and smiles. He has no time to chat-he is on a mission. Five days a week and without fail, he arrives at Brazil's Saracuruna Municipal Health Center in Rio de Janeiro state to take his tuberculosis (TB) medications under the watchful eye of the family health team. Thanks to the new TB diagnosis and treatment program established in this municipality in 2003, this young patient is motivated to complete his treatment. The clinic is close to his home and the staff knows him and encourages him.

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