A year ago, 50-year-old Fredrick Masamba, a father of six and a resident of Kiogora village, Nyamira county was a hopeless sick man.
“People had lost hope in me so had I on myself. I was just waiting to die due to my deteriorating health condition. It is a miracle I am alive today,” Fredrick tells us as we settle down for the interview.
Fredrick began feeling unwell in 2016 by experiencing chest pain and night sweats; signs and symptoms he had been treated of Tuberculosis the previous year and gotten cured of but upon seeking treatment this time round in the nearest health facility, he was treated for brucellosis and high blood pressure.
“Even after completing the brucellosis treatment which involved enduring 21 painful injections and faithfully taking the blood pressure medications daily, instead of getting better, I worsened as days went by,” Fredrick opens up.
When the conventional medicine seemed not to work, he sought treatment from traditional doctors using herbal medicine but still, his condition kept on deteriorating.
“By 2021, I was totally wasted and bedridden. I spent most of the time in bed in pain waiting to die as I had done all I could to get cured of this mysterious disease,” Fredrick recalls with sadness written overall on his face.
He continues, “Walking was extremely difficult for me. I had chest pains with difficulty in breathing. I could not even sleep. After a few minutes of sleep, I would wake up to wet beddings as a result of sweats. I used to cough blood.”
On 27th July of the same year, his wife informed him of upcoming medical outreach in their area the following day and requested they take him there.
“When my wife told me they would be taking me to the medical camp as she heard from the community health volunteer it was targeting people with symptoms like those that I had, I just shrugged her off and told her to let me die peacefully as I had made peace with death,” Fredrick says.
He passionately continues, “What was this going to change? After all, I had tried conventional and herbal medicine but nothing was forthcoming? It took a lot of convincing especially from my last born daughter to make up my mind and agree to be taken to the outreach.”
The following day, Fredrick was carried in a makeshift stretcher and taken to a Centre for Health Solutions – Kenya, USAID Tuberculosis Accelerated Response and Care II (TB ARC II) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health National TB Program and Nyamira County supported Tuberculosis Mobile Digital X-ray screening outreach.
“My attendance of the outreach was my turning point in regaining back my health. At the outreach, I was thoroughly examined and found to be ailing from TB and initiated on treatment immediately,” Fredrick says.
“Though at first, I was skeptical of getting cured, the medical team counseled me and reassured me that if I adhere to treatment, I would get cured. I went back home with a little hope of regaining back my health,” Fredrick emphasis.
Fredrick was linked up to the nearest government health facility for close monitoring and treatment follow-up.
“I was put under treatment for six months. As days progressed I began picking up. By the second month, true to the health worker’s words, I was getting better as the symptoms had started disappearing,” Fredrick shares.
With constant support from the health workers and his family, Fredrick is fully cured and back to providing for his family.
“I feel energetic now. My weight has improved from 42 to 52 kilograms. I thank all those who have supported me in my journey to recovery. They saved my life. I am okay now and back to doing subsistence farming that we depend on with my family,” an elated Fredrick says.
He urges those experiencing TB symptoms to go for screening and those on treatment to adhere to treatment to get fully cured.
“TB treatment is available and free in all government facilities. Once you experience any symptoms visit the nearest health facility to get treated. I am an example that the disease is curable once you adhere to treatment,” Fredrick emphasis.
He requests, “Please conduct more screening outreaches in the community to find missing TB cases like me. If it were not for the outreach, maybe I would be dead by now.”
Fredrick 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.
“We engaged Community Health Volunteers to do the outreach mobilisation at the community level. One that day we screened 160 people, 93 were presumptive cases and were subjected to X-ray and smear analysis. From this we diagnosed 16 TB patients and initiated them on treatment immediately,” Stella Mocheche, Nyamira North Sub County TB Coordinator notes.
She adds, “We linked the 16 patients to the nearest health facilities for ease of access to services and treatment follow up hence the quality of care for the patients.”
The selection of the targeted spot for screening was informed by the sub-county data on case notification and the area is far from the county referral hospital where the digital x-ray is stationed.
Stella Omulo, Centre for Health Solutions – Kenya, USAID funded Tuberculosis Accelerated Response and Care II (TB ARC II) activity, Nyanza Regional Officer notes that the targeted hotspot outreaches are among the many strategies, the activity is supporting in to find the missing TB cases.
“USAID TB ARC II in collaboration with the National TB Program and County and Sub County TB coordinators are implementing other strategies to find TB missing cases. This is by among others capacity building health workers on active case finding to screen clients for TB at all service delivery points in facilities right from outpatient to the ward, facility-based continuous medical education, on-job training, mentorship to health workers, and technical assistance supervision to facilities. From that, we have seen an increase in TB yield,” She concludes.