Why no parent wants TB to come knocking at their door

By Valda Kereu  Published by Campaign for Australian Aid on March 24, 2017

As parents, we all worry about our children, we want them to be healthy and happy. We want to see them running and playing and laughing.

We read stories about other people’s children being afflicted by disease and we’re all thankful it isn’t our child, except sometimes it is. Sometimes the very thing we most dread happening happens.

I’m a health worker in Papua New Guinea. Every day I work with other people in my community to educate them and help them treat tuberculosis (TB). I help ensure they have access to medicine, treatment and the services they need to heal. I was already working in healthcare when I contracted TB myself in 2009.

Due to my job, by the time I went to hospital to be diagnosed, I was already certain I had TB. I had lost a lot of weight, I had night sweats, I was too breathless to lie flat in bed, and even walking a short distance was a very difficult task because I was constantly out of breath. Still looking at my own x-ray, seeing my lungs filled with fluid, was shocking. When the diagnosis was delivered, I went to the hospital car park and cried. I was devastated that I had TB because I knew what the diagnosis meant for me. Six months of extensive treatment, lots of side effects and I knew that there was stigma attached to having TB.

TB does not discriminate and can affect people regardless of their status in society. Because TB is air borne, the only guaranteed way not to get TB is not to breathe.  TB does not respect borders or stop at your front door, if it is in your community it can easily come into your home, something I can tell you from experience nobody wants to have happen.


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