Tuberculosis | Background

Damien Foundation Nigeria

Proper treatment for all

“To get rid of my multi-drug resistant tuberculosis they started my treatment by giving injections and medicines every day. It was super-intensive”, says bus driver Hamred. Not only is the treatment intensive, but it is expensive: 3,500 dollars a month. “If Damien Foundation hadn't stepped in, I wouldn't be here. I could never have afforded the treatment”, says Hamred, who earns about 40 dollars a month on average. We hear the same from Muda, who is Waris's uncle and finds it hard to get regular work with his paralysed arm. “I earn about 6 dollars a month, two of which go towards my rent. It would have been impossible to pay for Waris's treatment.”

Damien Foundation tries to lower the financial barriers for patients in need around the world. It is one thing to improve the rate of detection, but another to provide the treatment resources to match. More medicines and other equipment must be distributed to the facilities and labs across the country's states. Damien Foundation aims to create, by 2024, universal access to quality services for patients with TB, MDR-TB and HIV/TB.

The government pays for most of the paramedic staff and medicines for ordinary TB with money from the Global Fund. In the last few years the authorities have also funded medicines for multi-drug resistant TB and, more recently, those for extensively drug-resistant TB. Damien Foundation covers lots of other expenses, such as buildings (hospitalisation), training, doctors' pay, part of the food and bedding expenses, and many other expenses to assist patient reintegration into society.

By investing in infrastructure Damien Foundation ensures that the treatment can be given in the best possible conditions and that the patients, who are often confined to the same hospital bed for months, are able to recover in the best possible circumstances. In 2014, for example, the organisation built a brand new treatment centre in the Jericho district. “It's a massive improvement on the place where our patients used to stay”, says charge nurse Emmanuel Elizabeth. “The courtyard in particular, and the little pavilions and benches, are a blessing. The patients find real peace here.”

The difference with the un-modernised centres is enormous. The centre at the University Hospital in Ibadan, for example, is in very poor shape. The kitchen, where the patients' food is prepared, is unhygienic and right next door to the dirty washing area. The paint is peeling off the outside walls, the sanitary facilities leave a lot to be desired and the building can flood in the rainy season. Ugiagbi and Bankoli, who share a room, tell us that that they don't get enough soap or solid foods, but that the medical treatment is okay. The university has now provided a building plot across from the existing centre. Damien Foundation can and will build a new department here and is currently raising the funds.

Damien Foundation Nigeria

TEXTS: Wendy Huyghe
PHOTOS: Tim Dirven @T.Dirven for Damien Foundation


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