5k for World TB Day
Tuberculosis is a huge issue in Nepal, and Dadeldhura is certainly no exception. 40% of the Nepali population is infected with latent TB (carrying the bacteria without having any symptoms), and nearly every day in our hospital a new case of active disease is diagnosed. Additionally, multidrug resistant TB (MDR TB) is on the rise. Treating TB is a challenge, to be sure. Because of the high burden of disease and expense of treatment, latent TB is not treated in Nepal. A routine case of active TB in the lungs requires six months of daily therapy. Multidrug resistant TB is significantly more complex, requiring at least a year of treatment with medications that often have serious side effects. The first nine months of therapy require the patient to be in a TB treatment facility.
Our hospital has a long history of treating patients suffering from TB. It goes back to our roots as a TB and leprosy hospital almost 50 years ago. We began providing treatment for patients with MDR TB just over a year ago, and now have five patients staying with us in our MDR TB house.
For these reasons, we decided to hold an awareness-raising event to commemorate World TB Day this year. We partnered with the district health office, and held a 5k race through Dadeldhura. It’s fair to say this was the biggest organized race in the recorded history of our fair city, with over 100 participants! We did it right, with t-shirts and small cash prizes for the top three men and ladies! But more importantly, we told the story of TB in our community. As the participants ran through the bazaar sporting their “Stop TB in My Lifetime!” shirts, the community members asked questions and learned more about what this disease is. And after the race, over 200 people attended the event which included cake, education, recognition of our MDR patients, and “Stop TB” themed face painting for the kiddos. All in all, it was a great success.
In the coming year, we will be acquiring N95 masks for our staff to protect them from TB transmission. Additionally, we are conducting fundraising to build a new home for our MDR TB patients. This new home is much needed as the current home lacks insulation, proper ventilation, and proper isolation and examination facilities. It’s far from the comfortable healing environment these patients need. We just learned two weeks ago that we have received a matching grant of $10,000, so we’re hoping to raise at least $10k in the next two months so we can purchase supplies before the new fiscal year turns over and prices increase. If you would like to help make this a reality, go to our Giving Page to make a contribution (please specify in the comments section that you want to give to the TB home). Every dollar helps!
An unexpected but fantastic additional impact of the race is that it seems to have spawned a number of new runners in Dadeldhura. The numbers of folks out jogging in the morning has at least doubled in the days following the race.
We’re proud of our efforts to help eradicate TB. Please join us and “Stop TB in your lifetime”!