by Sue Hanley
Early one morning in Thiet, Sudan, there was a knock on our door. A man stood outside, holding a tiny newborn baby. On examination, we found that the baby was full term but very small and had obviously not grown properly during pregnancy.
We were puzzled that the mother was not present. We learned from the relatives that she was sick. The following day she was brought to us on a stretcher, looking like a living skeleton. It was hard to believe that such a sick lady could have given birth to a live baby. Sadly, the baby died after a few days, so our efforts concentrated on making the mother, Angong, well again.
We suspected from her symptoms that Angong was suffering from TB. She had a bad cough – often coughing blood – chest pains and fever at night. We began treatment for TB – which was cheap but had to continue for one year. As well as giving her medicine, we gave Angong good food, though she could only eat a little at a time. She gradually recovered but remained at the clinic until she was strong enough to go home. Before she left we told her that she must return regularly for her tablets until the one year treatment was completed. Angong listened carefully and returned faithfully each month for her medicine, looking better each time she came. After one year she was like a new woman – healthy, smiling and happy. Angong is a wonderful example to us all and demonstrates how important it is to complete a course of treatment for TB.
Unfortunately, many people suffering from TB stop their treatment as soon as they begin to feel better. Later the TB will return and they will become even more ill. It is then much harder to treat them and often death is the sad result.
TB can be cured if a full course of treatment is completed.
Sue Hanley worked as a midwife in Sudan and Kenya for many years with Tearfund.
Photos: Angong (above) as she was before the treatment and (right) afterwards.