When Esther Mwendwa started coughing in the summer of 2015, she thought it would resolve without much effort on her part. The 29-year-old teacher in Kenya bought over-the-counter drugs to treat the cough.
However, two weeks later, her cough persisted, and she was sweating a lot at night. She decided to visit the local hospital. Through a Jhpiego-supported program at Mutuati Subcounty Hospital, Esther was screened for TB and referred to the laboratory, which confirmed that she had TB.
“When I tested positive for TB, I was scared. I had very little information about the disease. But, during counseling, I was reassured that with proper care and drug adherence, I could successfully fight the disease,” Esther said.
After two weeks of taking TB drugs, she started feeling better. “Nonetheless, from the health education I had received during my visits to the facility, I knew I had to take the drugs consistently for the prescribed six months,” Esther said.
Three months into her treatment, Esther’s son, Modecai, was losing weight and coughing. Esther worried he too might have TB, and she took him in for testing. The boy tested positive for TB.
Esther and her son learned how to stay safe and healthy throughout their treatment. Six months after starting her treatment, Esther was declared TB-free. Three months later, Modecai was also TB-free.
Esther recognizes the importance of educating friends and family about TB, a curable disease, and sharing her experience.
“Most people, just like I did, do self-diagnosis due to lack of information,” Esther said. “TB treatment is free, and it’s important to visit a health facility for [testing] and treatment. I am now confident enough to discuss TB with my peers and students to ensure they have access to TB information.”
TB treatment programs, such as the one at Mutuati Subcounty Hospital, are aimed to ensure that women and children like Esther and Modecai receive the quality care they need to reach a TB-free life.