Mid-morning, July 29, 2021, 27-year-old sickly Jane Kemunto was basking in the sun outside her house in Nyamira County. This had become a norm after she fell three months ago pushing her out of her menial job of washing clothes for her neighbors at a fee.
“I had become used to going outside the house to at least get some energy from the sun rays. This is after I fell ill, occasioned by pain and congestion in the chest. For the three months, I was sick, I took over-the-counter medicine but their pain relief was temporary, “ Kemunto opens up.
“As days went by so did my health deteriorate prompting me to stay home as my husband went for his menial job in the nearest market and my children to school. Since I was having chills most of the time, I used to sit outside the house to bask in the mid-morning sun and kill boredom from listening to conversations of the passersby, ” Kemunto continues.
It is the eavesdropping that would save her life. Kemunto shares, “While seated there, I heard people talk of a TB screening in the nearby market place. Upon further inquiry, they explained to me that it was open to anyone experiencing any chest problems. Due to the pain, I was experiencing, I decided to go and get checked.”
At the screening venue, Kemunto queued with hundreds of other residents as she waited to be screened. When her turn came, she turned out to be a presumptive TB case as she exhibited night sweats, chills, and chest pains which are among the cardinal signs of TB. “I was requested to provide a sputum for laboratory test. Few hours later, the results were back confirming that I had TB,” Kemunto shares.
Kemunto was counselled on the disease, treatment adherence and immediately initiated on treatment. She was also linked to the nearest health facility for treatment follow-up, drug refills and requested to go in the facility in the company of her husband and children for contact tracing. “After one week, I visited the health facility where I was linked up. Apart from checking on my progress, giving me drug refills and the health workers counselling me, they also screened and tested my family members for TB. Fortunately, they all tuned out negative for TB,” Kemunto says.
Her children were put on TB preventative therapy while the husband was counselled on supporting her journey to recovery. They were also encouraged on the importance of avoiding the spreading of the disease by staying in a well ventilated area. Back at home her family provided her with both moral and material support to beat the disease.
“My mother in-law stepped in and ensured that we were comfortable despite the disease. She gave me the moral support to complete the treatment as well prepared meals for us ensuring the drugs didn’t weigh me down,” Kemunto says.
She continues, “ This doesn’t mean I didn’t encounter any problems as I had neighbours and friends who upon hearing that my treatment would take six months, advised me to try herbal medicine but because I could see a positive progress after taking medicine and I had trusted the information given by the health workers that if I adhere to treatment, I would get cured, I ignored them and stuck to my cause.”
Kemunto completed her treatment on January 7, 2021. She is fully cured of the disease and back to supporting her husband in caring for their children through a small business of selling ripe bananas.
“I am truly grateful to everyone who supported in my journey to recovery. From the health workers who screened and started me on treatment, to the ones who have been following on my treatment follow-ups,” Kemunto says.
A joyful Kemunto adds, “ I am also grateful to my family especially my mother in-law who encouraged and supported me throughout the treatment journey to the Ministry of Health National TB Program and its partners like CHS – USAID TB ARC II for supporting the screening exercise and ensuring availability of treatment free of charge. Were it not for the screening exercise, TB would have killed me as I would not have known what was ailing me nor gotten any treatment.”
Kemunto encourages people to go for TB screening often and those on treatment to complete it. She requests for more screening exercises at the community level to finding the missing TB cases like hers. “I am a true testimony that TB is a treatable and curable disease. People should go for screening as often as possible to avoid being terrorised by the disease like I was. Those on treatment should complete it to get cured like I am. More screening exercise should be conducted at the community to save lives like mine was,” Kemunto concludes.
Kemunto is among hundreds of people reached through the Centre for Health Solutions – Kenya, USAID-funded Tuberculosis Accelerated Response and Care II (TB ARC II) activity in collaboration with the Ministry of Health National TB Program and Nyamira County supported targeted TB hotspot screening held in July 2021 at Nyamusi market, Nyamira North Sub County, Nyamira County.