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VOICES OF TB: Deborah Nayame Mushamba is on a Personal Mission

November 11, 2009

The TB community voice is essential to stopping the epidemic. Here, a health worker, activist, and TB Alliance Community Engagement coordinator talks about what her work means to herself and her community.

In what capacity do you work in the field of TB?

I work as a research nurse at University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Zambia in the department of chest infections and coordinate community engagement activities for REMoxTB in Lusaka. I’m also a member of an advocacy network group based in Lusaka which comprises local NGOs and focuses on reducing the incidence of TB among people living with HIV/AIDS.

Deborah Nayame Mushamba

Has TB personally affected your life?

I’ve been affected by TB through my family. My younger brother suffered from extra pulmonary TB and was forced to drop out of college. He was bedridden and his experiences with an inexperienced health system resulted in misdiagnosis, and consequently, he had one of his testicles unnecessarily removed. We subsequently moved him to be treated at UTH, where he received a correct diagnosis and completed proper treatment. He is now on the road to recovery and back in school.

Why did you choose to work in TB?

My brother’s ordeal was a turning point for me, and my interest in TB has since grown. When I was offered the opportunity to become part of the REMoxTB trial, I saw it as a chance to help fight TB in my own community

What do you think are the biggest obstacles for TB patients to overcome?

The main problem TB patients face is the protracted treatment regimen resulting in frequent clinic visits and the long waiting hours in the clinic.

What gives you hope about the future of TB research/treatment?

I see concerted efforts by world governments, particularly by the developed world and the various philanthropic groups through massive infusion of money to develop more effective and faster working drugs, as one huge step for humanity.

What do you think every person in the world should know about TB?

We live in an era where TB is quickly spread throughout the world. This, to me, makes it our collective problem; TB is not simply a third world phenomenon.