TB Success Story: Meet Sizakele

Sizakele is a young adult and single mother of one child, staying in a simple 3- roomed house. Her son works away from home.

Her home is in an extremely isolated corner of the Masoyi Valley down an unmade road which is severely eroded.  The erosion of the road is so bad that even a 4 wheel drive vehicle cannot get down it.The nearest Primary Health Care Clinic is at least 4.5kms away. When the team met Sizakele she had extremely painful legs, was undernourished and due to the MDR-TB was not well enough, to walk the distance to the clinic.Sizakele was very isolated and her nearest neighbours refused to assist her because she had TB.

A referral from the local clinic was received and the Team headed off to visit Sizakele and to do the initial assessment. As the road was so badly damaged, the team realised that they would not be able to get to the patient by car and so, whilst one team member stayed with the vehicle the others set off on foot.   

In planning her care the Team Leader reached an agreement with Sizakele that she would walk as far up the road as she could and they would meet her more than half way.  This would enable the team to be able to keep an eye on their vehicle as they were afraid to leave it unattended in such a vulnerable spot.  Vans (bakkies) like the Nissan are a “hot commodity”! A quiet secluded corner was agreed on, and so every day the team would arrive, set up a makeshift screen of sheets and Sizakele would be given her injectable MDR-TB medication.

Then the chairs would be brought out and Sizakele was invited to sit and share her feelings, her hopes and fears. The team became like sisters to Sizakele and she looked forward to each daily visit.Sometimes the team would bring her groceries and fresh vegetables that they had been given as donations.

Sizakele responded well to the medication and eventually she was able to revert to oral medication.The team was rewarded by her improving health and proof of her positive attitude.

Sizakele said it was hard to let go of the team’s visits and that they must pop in and see her sometimes.The team are planning to visit at least once a week just to see if she is still taking her medication, that she is able to go and buy food and that she is still feeling positive.