Some REACH Success Story


Mr and Mrs Debwe   Ms Mara Banda - Director Paradiso TB Patient Trust
TB patient clubs making a difference: Mr DEBWE shares his story on how the TB patient club saved his life.

Kasungu District is found in the Central Region of Malawi. It has a population of 59,696 as of 2008. It   is a commercial farming district in which tobacco is the main crop grown. With this type of farming a lot of people of different sex and from different areas come to this district for various activities such looking for employment and other businesses. With this influx of people to Kasungu sex workers are also busy doing their business.

A diagnosis of HIV or TB often has a huge impact on patients and causes a change in their lifestyles due to multiple challenges they face. This is influenced on one hand by how they feel they will be perceived by their families, friends and communities but more often by the negative experiences and stigmatisation from those around them.

One man named DEBWE shared his story with us of the frustrating experiences he has gone through and how his life has now changed for the better since he started receiving support from PARADISO TB Patient Trust.

Mr DEBWE while he was working on a tobacco estate in Kasungu was diagnosed with TB, after seeking health care he was diagnosed with TB. He went home and told his girlfriend who encouraged him to go for medication. After staying in the hospital for two months he was discharged and went home to finish the other drugs. The girlfriend’s parents instructed their daughter to end the affair because they felt that anyone with TB was also infected with HIV therefore, the man was almost dead and had no future and he pass HIV to her.
However the girlfriend was adamant got married to DEBWE and the family was later blessed with two daughters.

After some years the man health begun to deteriorate again and he fell sick regularly. He went back to the hospital time and again to find out what the problem was, he was told he did not have TB  was given some drugs and went back home in most of these visits. Later on he was asked if he could be tested for HIV, the man accepted and he was diagnosed HIV positive. Once his wife’s relatives knew of his HIV status they came to take away their daughter. But the woman insisted to stay with the man. Their neighbours laughed at them and they were stigmatised within their area. Due to this and his continued deteriorating condition he decided to move with his family from Kasungu to his home in Lilongwe. In Lilongwe they stayed in Area 24 close to PARADISO TB Patient Trust. This Trust has clubs in the area for TB and former TB patients where they give information, advice and support to the members on issues related to TB and its treatment.

Here the patients have an opportunity to share their anxieties, experiences and challenges thereby encouraging one another on treatment compliance and how to overcome the stigma they experience.

One morning a volunteer from PARADISO TB Patient Trust knowing that the household had a patient came to their house and had a chat with DEBWE and his wife. After narrating their stay and situation in Kasungu, the volunteer advised them to join a TB patient club in their area.  After further advice from TB the club, Mr DEBWE and his wife went to the hospital, the doctor requested the wife to also have an HIV test which was found negative HIV. The husband couldn’t believe his wife was negative and he therefore lived in denial. The woman then pleaded and advised her husband with support from the TB patient club to start taking ARV drugs, he eventually started and he is on the medication and his health has improved a lot.

Currently he is living a normal life and able to work as everyone else.

He saysTB ndi yochizika, kukhala ndi HIV sikutha kwa moyo bola kuzisamalira
meaning to sayTB is curable being HIV positive is not the end of life, as long as one takes care of oneself

This story is the result of the collaboration between REACH Trust and PARADISO TB Patient Trust who are working on health communication project to support TB patients with knowledge and information to support their TB and HIV treatment. AS part of the project
  • Volunteers have been trained in effective health communication skills
  • Volunteers have been trained on issues of TB and HIV management.
  • TB patient booklets have been developed that are provided to all patients Diagnosed with TB in TB treatment registration sites and are also used in TB patient clubs to support patients with information on questions they might have regarding their illness, how TB interacts with HIV, drug side effects, nutrition amongst other issues.
Health Communication Project is funded by LHL International Tuberculosis Foundation


By Harris Nantikwa