Bibin Joseph, nurse supervisor at MSF’s clinic in Bijapur town of Chhattisgarh, talks about what was involved in treating his first patient with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
© Manisha Chauhan
Nandini started treatment for tuberculosis at MSF’s clinic in Chhattisgarh in 2010. In between, she discontinued her medicines for 6 months. Tuberculosis treatment is long and often patients stop taking medicines once they feel better. This can worsen their condition and build their resistance to the usual drugs for treatment.
When she resumed treatment, we gave her newer drugs. However, laboratory reports later revealed that her condition had turned into multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), a hard-to-treat strain of the disease that does not respond to the most effective tuberculosis drugs.
Treatment for MDR-TB is at least two years long. It was tough at times for both Nandini and the clinic’s staff. She is the first patient that MSF treated for MDR-TB in Chhattisgarh.
In the beginning, Nandini was admitted to the clinic for a month. Afterwards, she stayed with relatives close to it since her home and family were far.
MSF’s staff oversaw her treatment as a team. We counselled her and gave her assurance during the tough days. She had several side effects, which happens often with MDR-TB treatment. In between, we brought her back to the clinic and stopped the regimen because of severe side effects.
She struggled through and got better and we continued her treatment. In around three months, she will finish her treatment and will go home cured of MDR-TB.
Nandini has become part of MSF’s family at the clinic. She never says that she will not have her medicines. The staff also takes medicines to her house and we support her with household items and money for food and accommodation.
She likes that we keep her motivated. We have treated her as a team and we are very excited that she will be cured soon. It was a challenge for us to treat a patient with MDR-TB and we are proud and happy that we were able to help Nandini get better.
Bibin Joseph was interviewed by Abhishek Shankhwar and Manisha Chauhan.
* The patient’s name has been changed and the photograph used is for represenation purpose only .