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World TB Month: Aurum CAB member survives TB and now helps others do the same

World TB Month: Aurum CAB member survives TB and now helps others do the same

As an Aurum Community Advisory Board (CAB) member and a tuberculosis (TB) survivor, Wellington Radebe is fully equipped in assisting health facilities in Tembisa to end TB within communities and firmly believes that ‘Yes, we can end TB’ by eradicating TB stigma and offering a widespread approach of support for those diagnosed with TB. 

Personal Journey

When Radebe was diagnosed with TB he recalled experiencing severe symptoms of back pain, sweating, lack of sleep and loss of appetite. Not knowing what these symptoms were, he sought testing and was diagnosed with TB and placed on treatment thereafter. “The hardest part about the treatment was the isolation, not being able to go through the experience with loved ones or someone who had expertise on my treatment journey, to help me with my medication or hold me accountable.” he said.

Now TB free, he dedicates his time as a CAB member through Aurum and utilizes his experiences to connect with patients in the community and ensure they do not feel isolated.

Connecting with the Community

Radebe does door-to-door visits, where he, along with health care professionals speak to patients to determine and ensure they are actively taking their prescribed doses of medication. “This in turn also encourages patients to show up for their upcoming visits to the clinic,” he said.

Radebe also works effortlessly to combat the widespread misconception about TB, due to many people living with TB being in denial about their condition. “We also work with neighborhood traditional healers to lessen stigmatization and misconceptions around TB within our communities. It is essential to educate patients about TB so they can pass on this knowledge to those around them.” he said.

John Mdluli, Aurum Head of Community Engagement noted that stigma is also fueled by the misconception that all people with TB are co-infected with HIV. “I believe that by addressing the TB/HIV stigma we will be able to place more people on treatment and they can also successfully complete their treatment regimen.”

To improve the TB patient experience, Radebe calls for more patient centered care, such as more patient support groups and soup kitchens. “I can relate to many TB patients who lack access to necessities, as I was once in their position. I know firsthand how many needs they may have,” he said.

Mdluli credits CAB members like Radebe who were once diagnosed with TB and have successfully completed the course of the treatment in assisting others to complete their treatment. “He has been in forefront in the fight to end TB, stigma and discrimination.”

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