A year ago, we featured one of our young patients, Gabriela, as she swallowed pills to treat multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Gabriela is now 5 years old and has completed two years of grueling treatment. She is cured!
MDR-TB is widespread in Moldova, accounting for about one-quarter of new, and two-thirds of previously treated, TB cases diagnosed every year in Moldova. MDR-TB is not only harder to treat, it is deadlier than drug-susceptible tuberculosis. Gabriela’s parents are relieved and overjoyed to see their oldest child healthy and vibrant. Every occasion is noteworthy for them, even Gabriela losing her baby teeth, as you see in the attached photo.
Gabriela’s father has finished TB treatment and has found construction work in their village, Chipriceni. He was a migrant worker and had interrupted treatment more than once. This is a common occurrence in Orhey district in central Moldova, where Chipriceni is located. The director of the Orhey TB Community Center, Natalia, says, “Speranta Terrei is a valued partner for us. Moderators are from our community and we can select the neediest patients: the isolated, the poor, and migrant workers.” For Speranta Terrei and TB Community Centers, the relationship is mutually beneficial in our common cause to reduce treatment default. Staff at these centers know which patients need home-based treatment support and which moderators are suitable for a patient. They are close enough to monitor a patient’s adherence to treatment and adverse effects of drugs. Speranta Terrei trains moderators and pays them an allowance for home visits and thus stretches the reach to vulnerable patients.
In the case of little Gabriela, her mother, Cristina, was her moderator. Cristina brought home TB drugs from the dispensary and provided Directly Observed Therapy to Gabriela while caring for Gabriela’s baby sister. Gabriela shows her appreciation of her moderator in the attached photo. Thankfully, her baby sister was not infected with TB. Cristina is ready to use her experience with Gabriela to give treatment support to an older woman who lives in Chipriceni.
Gabriela and Speranta Terrei send our thanks for your donations. Gabriela says, “I don’t have to take pills anymore. I can play again with my friends.”
In 2012, we reported on Alexandr, who was undergoing treatment for drug-susceptible tuberculosis under the gaze of our intrepid moderator, Galina. Since then, Alexandr has finished treatment and is now cured of tuberculosis. He is relieved to have overcome TB, but he wishes he could overcome the weakness in his legs. During a period of excessive drinking of alcohol a few years ago, Alexandr experienced tremors and lost the use of his legs. His legs remain weak and he cannot walk unaided.
At the age of 27, Alexandr is homebound. His favorite spot at his parents’ apartment is by the window, where he sits for hours at a time, watching people go to and fro and listening to children jumping noisily in the playground. He spots young mothers strolling with their children. He would like to join the hubbub instead of languishing in a chair. Before alcohol claimed his legs, he had attended technical college and had a circle of friends. He tells Galina, “I long to walk again and to have a family with many children.”
Alexandr reads books, especially books on Moldovan history. He misses Galina’s visits and her stern talks, which saw him through TB treatment. When she came by to say hello recently, his joy was apparent, as shown in the attached photo. He says about Galina and Speranta Terrei, “I know they will not abandon me, they gave me hope to believe that I would be well again.”
Thanks to your generosity, Speranta Terrei has the means to offer personal support to patients such as Alexandr. They need not only anti-TB drugs, but the deft touch of caring persons in our community who are willing to visit them at home. We cannot solve all of Alexandr’s problems, but we could assist him to complete TB treatment at home. Alexandr is not alone among TB patients who abused alcohol and he wants to share his story so that others are deterred. Speranta Terrei would like to reduce the heavy toll of alcohol addiction among our TB patients and start addiction counseling for them.
As always, we thank you for your donations, which currently go towards the establishment of a center for tuberculosis patients. The center will allow us to expand our services to patients. On the last Global Giving Bonus Day, Speranta Terrei was delighted that many more of you joined our cause!
A cup of milk goes a long way! For Valentin Turcan of Soldanesti, the creamy milk in the attached photos symbolizes his recovery from tuberculosis. As happens to so many of his fellow Moldovans, Valentin sought to earn a living as a migrant construction worker and became ill with TB. Upon his return to Moldova, he was hospitalized in 2013 in Chisinau for intensive phase treatment for drug-susceptible tuberculosis and then went home to Soldanesti to continue treatment. There, he asked his moderator, Claudia, if he could go to her house instead of the dispensary to take TB drugs. Claudia, a medical assistant, agreed readily. Every evening, she greeted Valentin with his drug regimen along with a nourishing cup of milk from her own cow. Claudia says, “Even my husband became involved and reminded me to set aside milk for Valentin.”
Valentin, who is 38 years old, is now cured of TB and ascribes his good health not only to drugs, but to Claudia. He is grateful, saying, “From the start, I was sure I would be healthy with her help, her kindness and the delicious milk.” Claudia recounts Valentin was a compliant patient, who never missed an appointment, and was determined to overcome his illness. When the laboratory results at the end of treatment showed he was free of TB, they celebrated with a cup of milk.
Your donations, large and small, also have gone a long way. With great pleasure, Speranta Terrei reports that we have surpassed the project goal of 150 patients! Donations to our GlobalGiving project have allowed 31 moderators to give treatment support to 171 patients. Among these patients were 121 men, 47 women, and 3 children who had new as well as relapse cases of drug-susceptible and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Speranta Terrei spent $15,433 on treatment support for these patients, made possible by your donations, as follows:
Personnel $3,135; Moderator Allowances $9,859; Rent $560; Audit Fees $390; Bank Fees $417; Computer $1,014; and Supplies $58.
Henceforth, your Global Giving donations will go towards the other goal of our project, renovation of a building to be made into a center for TB patients. Speranta Terrei has identified a run-down building in Balti. It needs heaps of work. We have a long way to go, but with your support, we are determined to reach our longstanding goal.
On behalf of all 171 patients, Speranta Terrei sends you a heap of thanks!
Serghei grew up an only child of parents who wanted the best for him and nurtured his talent for drawing. He earned a painter decorator degree in 1989, but his life turned upside down in the turmoil of the 1990s, in the wake of the Soviet Union’s disintegration and ensuing socioeconomic collapse in Moldova and other former Soviet republics. Serghei abused alcohol and drugs and spent time in prison in the late 1990s and in the 2000s. And, he says he was in contact with fellow prisoners who were TB patients.
Following his last stint in prison, Serghei turned around his life, married and started a family and worked in a cement plant in Balti. On New Year’s Eve 2011, after weeks of high temperature, Serghei felt he could not breathe and was taken by ambulance to hospital. At first, doctors diagnosed pleurisy, but treatment failed to improve his condition. When sputum results came back after 1 month, the diagnosis was changed to TB and Serghei was transferred to Balti TB Hospital. Doctors there treated him with first-line drugs for drug-susceptible tuberculosis, but sputum analysis after 1 more month indicated no response to treatment. Finally, sputum culture tests confirmed multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in March 2012, 4 months after his first diagnosis. Serghei was moved to the MDR-TB section, where he began treatment with second-line drugs and remained hospitalized for 8 months. He now receives ambulatory treatment and will complete MDR-TB treatment in February 2014. During the twists and turns of TB disease, Serghei’s wife and five-year old son were a constant source of emotional support and reason to continue treatment. What Serghei feared the most was transmitting TB to his beloved son. He says, “I could face everything else as long as I know my child is healthy. If I thought I had given him TB, I would die.”
Serghei lost his hearing as a side effect of TB drugs and asked Dr. Feodora Rodiucova, the president of Speranta Terrei, how he could obtain a hearing aid without payment because he lacked money. She helped him to fill forms for hearing aids available through the Balti Department of Health. You can see Serghei speaking to Dr. Rodiucova and Serghei with the hearing aid in attached photos.
As he looks towards New Year’s Eve 2013, Serghei is relieved to be nearing the end of 24 months of MDR-TB treatment. Of the hearing aid, Serghei says, “To hear my son’s laughter is joy. He asked me, Papa, can you really hear me and then laughed when I said yes.” Serghei’s artistic bent has been revived, giving him hope and a yearning to sketch again. In the New Year, Speranta Terrei will continue to bring hope to TB patients with your help. Un An Nou Fericit in Romanian, in Russian, and Happy New Year in English!
Tuberculosis strikes the young and the old. For us at Speranta Terrei, its mark on young lives is especially piercing. TB draws them apart from other children whose families fear infection and the large number of drugs is hard to swallow, literally and figuratively, for small children.
Four-year-old Gabriela Namasco was diagnosed at age 3 with ganglion lymphatic multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). She was hospitalized in the children’s section of Chisinau TB Hospital from November 2012 to May 2013 for the intensive phase of a grueling 18-month course of treatment. She is now in the ambulatory, or continuation, phase of treatment at home in Chipriceni village in Orhey district. Her mother, Cristina, and her baby sister do not have TB, but her father, Victor, was treated for TB and MDR-TB. He interrupted treatment when he left Moldova periodically as a migrant worker and is currently being treated for MDR-TB.
In cooperation with Orhey TB community center and the TB dispensary, Speranta Terrei placed Gabriela’s mother, Cristina, as her moderator. Gabriela became even more attached to her mother when they were separated for 6 months during Gabriela’s treatment at Chisinau TB Hospital. Back at home, Cristina gives Gabriela a dose of pills every day, as shown in the attached photo. Of course, Gabriela dislikes the handful of pills and her grimaces are part of the daily routine. Swallowing pills is not as hard, though, as being away from her family and Gabriela complies.
When Gabriela was in hospital, Cristina visited only every 2 or 3 weeks because she did not have money for the trip and she had to attend to a newborn. At each hospital visit, Gabriela said to Cristina, “Mama, I wished to the fairy I could go home.” Cristina is relieved the treatment support program allows her to bring home Gabriela’s TB drugs instead of taking her 15 kilometers to the dispensary. Cristina says “All of Gabriela’s treatment was a long way up the hill. Today, we are a little bit closer to the top of the hill.” Gabriela is happy to go right back to sketching after taking TB drugs, as in the photo. She misses playing with children, but she knows she can do this again after she is cured.
At the renowned monastery and park at Orhey Vechi, an annual international festival called “Gustar Day” is held to taste different foods. On 24-25 August, American Peace Corps Volunteers in Moldova organized a fundraiser at the festival, selling Moldovan-American fusion food and handing out information on TB and Speranta Terrei. The proceeds will go towards Speranta Terrei’s treatment support of patients. With our own Dr. Feodora Rodiucova at their side, the volunteers presented a hamburger to a surprised Minister of Health, Dr. Andrei Usatii, and related the importance of treatment support for TB patients. Thank you, Peace Corps Volunteers!
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Moldova, Republic of
Moldova, Republic of