Stop TB Partnership

Beyond the clinic door, Red Cross volunteers provide home-based care to those suffering from tuberculosis

24 March 2015 - The poor, people living with HIV, drug users, migrant population, children and women and prison inmates among others are those who are disproportionately affected by tuberculosis (TB) and often missed. Every year, one in hundred people develop TB in South Africa. HIV and TB are closely connected. HIV weakens the immune system hence people living with HIV are more susceptible to developing TB and are at greater risk of dying if they do not have access to proper treatment.

Nomthandzo who lives in Madadeni Section 3, an informal settlement in KwaZulu province tested positive for the co-infections of HIV and TB. Without any support, medicines or guidance she felt lost and scared. Coping with the illness was hard for her at first.

It was while conducting a regular door-to-door campaign that a South African Red Cross Society volunteer got to know Nomthandzo and registered her for home-based care services. Thereafter, a volunteer started visiting her on daily basis, helped her bathe and carry out the household chores.

With little or no methods of transportation available and medical centres at a great distance, people often miss crucial visits, fail to collect medicines and adhere to their treatments or accept incorrect medicines from local drug dealers. The South African Red Cross Society volunteers are working with communities to ensure that those who find themselves in similar situations like Nomthandzo are cared for, provided with the necessary psychosocial and practical support and follow their treatment on a daily basis.

While her recovery was slow, with time Nomthandzo’s health started improving allowing her to get back to work. But then she had another setback. Her feet became very sore and she was forced to stop working. A volunteer accompanied her to the hospital where she was admitted. Her leg needed to be amputated below the knee due to poor blood circulation. Nomthandzo returned home after the operation but the wound was not healing properly. To avoid further complications, she had to go to the hospital regularly for check-ups.

Through this ordeal, a volunteer has been visiting her regularly providing her with psychosocial support and ensuring she continues to take her medication.

To fight the disease effectively and save lives, Red Cross volunteers are complementing the efforts of the formal health systems by providing the much needed care and supervision required beyond the clinic doors, at home.

Working towards making a positive change in people’s behaviour and attitudes, volunteers are also reaching communities with prevention messages to raise awareness about sexual and reproductive health and fight stigma and discrimination.