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Jul 7, 2017

Reducing Tuberculosis Risk

Alexandra Cooks Borscht for Homeless
Alexandra Cooks Borscht for Homeless

Tuberculosis is transmitted through the air and it can infect anyone. In Moldova, TB has a deep foothold because of individual risk factors and general socioeconomic and public health factors. At Speranta Terrei, we counter some of those risks thanks to the generosity of our GlobalGiving donors and other funds. We support TB patients to complete treatment so that they do not infect others, we assist individuals at high risk to be tested for TB, and we raise awareness of behavior which increases TB risk.

Homelessness and cigarette smoking increase the risk of TB. When Galina, Speranta Terrei’s long-time moderator (treatment supporter), won the Kochon Prize last year, she saw a chance to expand Speranta Terrei’s assistance to the homeless. Poor living conditions and nutrition contribute to TB risk for the homeless. Thanks to the Kochon Prize funds, Speranta Terrei serves lunch to the homeless (photos) at our Centre for Tuberculosis Patients and has a car to transport the homeless for medical tests. Galina recently went with Vitalii and Vasilisa (photo) in the car to the TB dispensary and clinic for diagnostic tests. Although Vitalii and Vasilisa were not diagnosed with TB, they were diagnosed with chronic pulmonary disease. They are among an estimated 450 homeless in Balti to whom Speranta Terrei gives special attention for TB control.  

Smoking prevalence among adults in Moldova is 25 percent and smoking is all too common among patients to whom Speranta Terrei gives TB treatment support. Tobacco smoking doubles the risk of a recurrence of TB and increases the risk of TB infection, of developing TB disease, and of TB mortality. This year we took a step to attack this huge risk with the help of Alexandre, a professor at Balti Medical College. He organized 25 students for an awareness campaign for World No Tobacco Day on 31 May. To reach aspiring medical professionals at the college, the students set up information panels entitled, “Smoking Kills” and “A Day Without Smoking”, and showed a film on the damage smoking causes. They asked students and workers to consider to, “Replace a cigarette with an orange”. Several students agreed to this exchange and put their cigarettes in the trash bin and took the orange (photo). One student said, “I found so much information about the damage of smoking, I realized I should give up.”  

Students set up a tent in Balti city centre with the motto “Let’s have a healthy life - stop smoking”. They discussed with passersby the dangers of smoking, exchanged oranges for cigarettes, and measured blood pressure (photo). The students spoke to 300 and measured the blood pressure of 73 people. One woman said, “I am glad the younger generation is trying to stop smoking, I could not convince my husband to stop and my whole family suffered because of it”. We want to do all we can to reduce the risk factors associated with TB and reduce the suffering it causes.

Lunch at Speranta Terrei's Centre
Lunch at Speranta Terrei's Centre
Vasilisa & Vitalii to TB Dispensary
Vasilisa & Vitalii to TB Dispensary
Alexandre and Balti Medical College Students
Alexandre and Balti Medical College Students
Student Replaces Cigarettes with Orange
Student Replaces Cigarettes with Orange
Health Tent in Balti City Centre
Health Tent in Balti City Centre
Apr 10, 2017

Children Commemorate World TB Day

Alina on Piano
Alina on Piano

Speranta Terrei commemorated World Tuberculosis Day on 24 March with a children's concert at our Centre for Tuberculosis Patients in Balti. Alexandrina, chief of piano department at George Enescu Musical School, led the children in renditions of Moldovan, Ukrainian, and Russian music on piano, violin, guitar, and vocals. 

The young performers’ interpretations were as uplifting as the photos of Alina playing Goedicke’s “Waltz”, Artiom playing Artobolevskya’s “A Short Waltz”, and Elena playing Doga’s “Scripunela”. The five vocalists sang Zaporojan’s “Spring”, Alexandrina accompanying on piano and Ala, our psychologist, accompanying on vocals. These vocalists live in a group home and visit our Centre on Saturdays for music and play therapy with Alexandrina and Ala.

David Rochkind’s portable exhibit is visible behind the pianists, his photos of Moldovan patients and medics a dramatic reminder of TB’s human cost. Standing in front of the exhibit at the start of the concert, Nadejda, Speranta Terrei’s consultant, explained the historic significance of Dr. Robert Koch’s announcement on 24 March 1882 of his discovery of mycobacterium tuberculosis as the cause of TB.

Students at "Ion Creanga" High School in Balti have been meeting children from the group home for their civics education project on TB stigma (photo “Coloring Together”). Their project placed first among Balti schools and they are headed to the national competition in Chisinau in May! The students, Andreea, Tatiana, Cristina, Alexandru, and Anastasia conducted a survey that revealed 35 percent of patients do not present for diagnosis or abandon treatment because they fear social discrimination and rejection. Their teacher, Olga, explains the purpose of civics education is to “encourage students to be involved in their community, to be active citizens with an interest in society’s problems.” The 10th form students sensed the isolation of the group home children, some close to their own age. Cristina said, “I realized how much stigma can affect children’s life and I am really sorry it happens in our society. It’s not fair.” We are rooting for the “Ion Creanga” High School students at the national competition!   

These students, who contend with absent migrant worker parents, living with relatives, commuting to school from surrounding villages, find time for the children in the group home. Their genuine compassion and their easygoing manner with the children is apparent. The students and the young musicians fill us with hope that we can fulfill this year’s World TB Day slogan, “Unite to End TB”.

Many thanks for your donations which keep our Centre open as a place of compassion and commemoration.

Artiom on Piano
Artiom on Piano
Elena on Violin
Elena on Violin
Vocalists
Vocalists
High School Students and Children
High School Students and Children
Children's Table
Children's Table
Jan 12, 2017

Neighborly Help

Valentin Inside House
Valentin Inside House

“I would say that without our involvement, he could not finish the treatment,” Liudmila states assuredly, “he needs constant supervision and control.” Liudmila is speaking of her neighbor, Valentin, for whom she has been a moderator (treatment supporter) for 7 months of his lengthy treatment for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

Liudmila and Valentin live in Gidirim village in the Ribnita district of Transnistria, a breakaway region on the left bank of the Dneistr River in Moldova. Thanks to the generosity of Global Giving donors, Speranta Terrei restarted community treatment support for TB patients in Transnistria and sustained this critical service in our hometown, Balti. Valentin exemplifies why TB patients may be unable to follow drug regimens without a moderator. He suffers from epilepsy, alcoholism, and psychiatric conditions and lives alone in his deceased parents’ house. In the bitter cold of last February, the entire interior of the house and the roof burned due to an electrical fire (photo of Valentin in charred house).

Valentin had been treated previously for TB, the first time when his brother died of TB after a stint in prison. That was 10 years ago. In 2015, Valentin was diagnosed again with TB, this time a more serious case of infiltrative, pulmonary MDR-TB. Because he interrupted treatment, the TB dispensary requested Speranta Terrei to give him Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) at home. Liudmila and other neighbors had been watching over Valentin, giving him food and clothes, and Liudmila agreed to be his moderator. Her visits with TB drugs (photo of them in the rundown garden of the house) enabled Valentin to complete treatment in December. He is grateful, saying “To receive treatment at home is very convenient, I do not have to go so far every day.” 

Unfortunately, Valentin broke the law recently and he is in detention awaiting a decision on his fate. This is the reality of vulnerable patients Speranta Terrei assists with community DOT and this is why there is a constant need for moderators to help patients regain health and to stem TB transmission.

Our most experienced moderator, Galina, has done much to counter this reality, as Speranta Terrei’s previous Global Giving project reports show. We at Speranta Terrei are overjoyed that Galina was awarded the prestigious Kochon Prize for her contribution to end tuberculosis! (Photo of Kochon Foundation Chairman Kim giving prize to Galina.) Galina exemplifies the 2016 Kochon Prize theme, “Unsung Heroes Working to End TB”, as she makes daily rounds to persuade homeless, addicted, unwilling, and even combative patients to complete treatment. Please see official announcement at http://www.stoptb.org/global/awards/kochon/awardees/2016.asp

We thank you for helping us to improve the reality of vulnerable TB patients and we send you many good wishes for a healthy New Year.

Valentin and Liudmila in Garden
Valentin and Liudmila in Garden
Chairman Kim Gives Galina Kochon Prize
Chairman Kim Gives Galina Kochon Prize
 
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