The small State of Swaziland in southern Africa has one of the world’s highest AIDS prevalence rates. Roughly 26% of the adult population are infected with HIV out of a total of 1.1 million people. More than 10,000 people are also suffering from tuberculosis (TB).
Here some achievements of our tuberculosis programme (January - June 2011):
Nonjabulo is seven years old and her name means "Happiness". Yet up to now she hasn't experienced so much happiness in her short life. She never knew her father, while her mother is mentally handicapped and has been living with distant relatives for the past year. Nonjabulo lives with her great-grandmother along with three orphans. The same household is home to her grandfather and a widowed aunt with two children.
The whole family cultivates a small garden and a maize field in a remote region. When there is no rain, the harvest is meagre. The nearest source of water is a kilometre away. Water for the whole household is carried home on their heads.
Little Nonjabulo caught tuberculosis from her mother. Yet she is lucky in her misfortune. The Red Cross clinic is only about 15 kilometres from her modest home. When a volunteer helper from the Red Cross clinic first visited, Nonjabulo was just skin and bone and very severely ill. "We started treating her tuberculosis immediately. Now she has started feeling hungry all the time, so she is already making good progress," says Marilis Katulu of the Swiss Red Cross. "Fortunately we can provide the family with a food parcel every month, so the child can regain her strength again. In one month the treatment will be over and Nonjabulo will be cured."
If you ask the quiet, serious Nonjabulo what she wants to do, she suddenly becomes lively: "As soon as I am strong enough for the long walk, I can go back to school, and I'm really looking forward to that," the little girl beams with joy as pronounces the word 'school'.
The Red Cross provides "Happiness" with a school uniform, proper shoes without holes and even a jacket. In the winter the early-morning temperatures hover around freezing - Nonjabulo will need the uniform.
The star pupil has a clear goal: to graduate from high school. When she is big, she wants to be a nurse, visit sick children and give them medicines so that they can get well again.
Her family cannot raise the tuition fees alone. But first of all there is just one thing on Nonjabulu's mind: getting well and studying.
Thank you for helping us to offer hope to the children in Swaziland.
More than 20 journalists from eight countries visited Red Cross tuberculosis programmes in South Africa and Swaziland as part of the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership media tour in January 2011. The journalists – from Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey – were joined by local media at panel briefings and site visits designed to increase their awareness and knowledge of both TB and MDR-TB.
In Swaziland, the group visited the Sigombeni clinic, a primary healthcare facility run by the Baphalali Swaziland Red Cross Society in partnership with the Swiss Red Cross. In his welcoming address to the journalists, the secretary general of Baphalali, Nathi Gumede, said that the success of the clinic would “not have been possible without the excellent work of our health professionals and the voluntary services of the community, including the chiefs in the area”.
In 2010, about 1,500 people, particularly expectant mothers, were tested for HIV and tuberculosis in the Red Cross clinics in Swaziland. Around 300 people started AIDS therapy and 159 TB therapy.
Get an insight on our work and join us on a home visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/swissredcross#p/f/3/j1JAlacFt9g
Since the start of the TB treatment programme in July 2009 more than 500 people in Sigombeni and Mahwalala have been tested using sputum or referred to a hospital for X-ray. Tuberculosis was diagnosed in 135 people who were then given treatment. As many as 48patients were cured. Unfortunately, eight TB patients died, all of whom also had AIDS.
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