Founded in 2007 by former TB patient Melecio Mayta Ccota, ASPAT-Perú is a community-based, patient-driven non-profit organization which uses an integrated, multi-sector strategy to fight TB from the bottom-up. They use TB patient experiences to produce authentic advocacy and inform pragmatic problem-solving.
Over the years ASPAT-Perú has made significant contributions to advocacy, patient services and combatting the social stigma attached to TB. Their advocacy efforts led to the 2014 passage of Ley 30287, a law prohibiting discrimination of TB patients undergoing treatment. As part of ASPAT-Perú’s broad range of patient services, they offer sensitivity training to community health workers, and bring impoverished patients much-needed food and shelter. Underlying all of their projects is ASPAT-Perú’s work on TB prevention and their battle against social stigma, efforts which they aspire to expand across the entirety of Peru and the rest of South America.
ASPAT-Perú’s latest initiative is the implementation of an electronic patient compliance system called SisBioTB, which targets Peru’s TB high treatment abandonment rate. The implementation is complete in nearly 30 health centers in Northern parts of Lima and Callao, with hopes to install the program in centers across Peru.
The Kochon Prize will give ASPAT-Perú the platform to expand upon its success in Lima and Callao across the rest of Peru and South America, for a future without TB.
Naomi Wanjiru is a nurse who, for the past six years, has been running a busy clinic attending to TB and HIV/AIDS patients in Engineer District Hospital in Nyandarua County in Central Kenya.
Aged only 39, Naomi has lived through and survived an ordeal that would severely test the limits of even the most ardent anti-TB campaigner. Seven months into her work at the TB clinic, Naomi developed intense back pain which would later be diagnosed as TB of the spine. At this point, Naomi could barely walk without support. After completion of a six month first line anti-TB regimen Naomi was cleared of TB.
Following her remission, Naomi resumed her work in the TB clinic providing critical TB services despite continued pain and discomfort. Two years later Naomi visited an orthopedic specialist from India who would deliver grim news: the TB had destroyed her lumbar spine and resulted in a collapsed L 2, L 3 and L 4 (lumbar) vertebrae. Surgery would be necessary. Despite what she was up against, Naomi continued to work in the lead up to the operation.
Less than two months after a successful operation and weeks of intensive physiotherapy, Naomi was back in the clinic, providing services to TB and HIV/AIDS patients.
Naomi’s heroism and dedication to the fight against TB, even at great personal cost was inspiring to patients and health workers alike. Her efforts at the TB treatment clinic contributed to a TB treatment success rate of 90% among patients attending her clinic in 2014. Five years on from the onset of her struggle with TB, Naomi continues to work at the TB clinic in Engineer District Hospital.
Naomi will devote most of the 2015 Kochon Prize award to fight stigma associated with TB in Nyandarua County, a concept she is all too familiar with having ran one of the busiest TB clinics in the county for six years.
Dr. Natalya Vezhnina
Dr. Natalya Vezhnina is certainly one of TB’s "unsung heroes," having dedicated nearly her entire professional life of 40 years to care for TB patients even in the face of adversity. Her activism and professional and personal stories fully reflect this year’s theme.
Natalya, as she is known to many people, was responsible for unlocking the subsequent work to take action against TB deaths in Russian prisons. When the TB death toll at Mariinsk Colony 33 began to soar, Natalya, as chief doctor, went public with a report about the dire conditions. This, in turn, attracted the attention of foreign health organizations, who offered the DOTS solution which began is 1997.
Throughout her career Natalya has continued to act with perseverance even when exposed to the risks and consequences of severe reprimands by national prison authorities, accused of being too much on the patients’ side. For choosing to intervene for the most diminished, most vulnerable and defenseless - TB patients in prisons.
Over the years Natalya has left her mark on generations of TB doctors, and medical and non-medical personnel through her humanity and professionalism. She deserves to be recognized for her revolutionary work, and expertise which was brought to the global community, to international meetings and academic centers of excellence, and a global career across a large number of NGOs.
The list of Natalya’s achievements is seemingly never-ending, and would require a book to encompass her lifelong dedication to the fight against tuberculosis. The Kochon Prize will allow her to create a local NGO to combat a deadly emergence of drug-resistant TB and HIV in Kemerovo, Siberia.