USAID Support Improved TB Patient Tracking Among Nomadic Populations in Karamoja Sub-region
In December 2019, 68-year old Aleper Margaret Chepotee from Kukayim village, in Amudat town was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) at Amudat Hospital. Margaret was immediately started on TB treatment which she dutifully adhered to for the first two months of treatment. But later, she started missing her clinic appointments. Realizing that Margaret had missed two clinic visits, the community linkage facilitator from Amudat hospital Mr Ruto Joseph on conducted a home visit in an attempt to trace her. On arrival at her home, he was told that Margaret had travelled to Ochorichor, a different village 28 kilometres from her home to take care of a sick relative and did not have telephone contact. Efforts to trace her in Ochorichor through the community-owned resource person (CORP) overseeing that village was not successful and therefore declared lost to follow up in May 2020.
Ruto, however, did not give up on finding Margaret. He continued to check if Margaret had returned to her home whenever he visited other TB patients in Kukayim village for adherence support.
He also regularly called her next of kin to find out if Margaret had returned from Ochorichor village. After five months of tracking Margaret, Ruto found her back at her home unwell. He encouraged her return to Amudat hospital for review by the health workers.
Margaret is one of the 350 TB patients and more who have been successfully traced by USAID Program for Accelerated Control of TB in Karamoja (PACT Karamoja)’s community teams after failing to keep their monthly clinic appointments. Ruto attributes their success in tracking the patients to teamwork and persistence.
“We did not give up the first time when we failed to find her. We continued looking for her.” Ruto says. However, he is also quick to appreciate the enabling support given by the USAID PACT Karamoja activity which facilitates his work. “It is also good that the project provided phones in the TB clinic and airtime. We had to make many phone calls to find Margaret”. Ruto
Margaret has since restarted her TB treatment and is ready to adhere to the entire six months of therapy. Ruto continues to provide treatment adherence support since he comes from the same village. Margaret received health education about TB and now understands that the disease will take six months to cure. She is also happy that Ruto brings her TB medicines at home since Amudat hospital is far.
“I am happy Ruto brings my medicine all the way up to my home. He also taught me that stopping to take the medicine was not good. I feel much better today after restarting treatment. I will continue on the treatment for six months. I will inform Ruto if I have to go away on any other journey”. Margaret said