I am Naomi Wanjiru from Kenya, I am a mother and a nurse by profession.
I am a TB survivor and a champion and my purpose is to impact positively on the lives of the people who I meet in my line of duty most of whom are affected by TB. I walk with them through the journey of TB diagnosis and treatment. I walk the talk.
The Global Fund gave me the chance to live again at a time that I felt my life was coming to an end when I was diagnosed with TB of the Spine. Through the Fund, I was able to access all the required medication for free and on time. It also ensured that I got the psychological and emotional support from Community Health Volunteers who are trained and supported by the program. Through this support, I was able to manage my anxiety of looking for funds to buy the drugs and the mental effect of the TB diagnosis and treatment.
Grants from the Global Fund support the three epidemic diseases in Kenya, and communities benefit from accessing free ARVs, Anti TB and Malaria packages. The programs help prevent mortality and complications associated with the diseases. Additionally, the Global Fund has also supported prevention programs for HIV, TB and Malaria both at the community and facility level that support Kenya’s global goals to end the three diseases.
I am an advocate because of the rich lived experience that I got through my TB diagnosis. Through my story of pain and suffering due to late diagnosis, I advocate for early and effective diagnosis. Early diagnosis of TB is key to preventing complications, pain, and suffering. I also advocate for access to medication, community support for those affected by TB and against stigma and discrimination.
I went through firsthand – stigma and discrimination mostly from my colleagues and was forced to inject my own drugs since no one was willing to do it for me for fear of infecting themselves, it was a miserable situation. Stigma and discrimination undermine efforts to have people tested for TB and get treatment. It also affects the people infected by TB negatively who opt to hide themselves rather than seek treatment – fueling the spread of the disease.
The onus is on all health providers to screen all presumptive TB cases who come to hospital to ensure early and effective diagnosis of those affected by TB. It also imperative that community structures are supported to pass TB prevention messages and support those affected by TB.
Through my advocacy, I hope to see an increase in resources both from domestic and external sources towards ending the 3 diseases. I also hope to see increased transparency, accountability, and goodwill towards eliminating HIV, TB and Malaria.
Mobilization of resources and accountability is the way to end the world pandemic. We might be willing to end the TB epidemic but with lack of funds and lack of accountability then it will remain a far reached dream.