Last month members of the STREAM Community Advisory Board (CAB) at the St. Peter’s Tuberculosis Specialized Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia visited Mekedonia Homeless Shelter. The purpose of their visit was to understand the burden of tuberculosis/multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB/MDR-TB) among residents, to assess the level of TB awareness of the residents, and to understand the challenges faced by healthcare workers in delivering TB care to residents of the shelter. The visiting team included CAB members, the St. Peter’s Community Liaison Officer and a member of the site trial team.
During the visit, the shelter’s nursing staff explained that the shelter cares for over 1,700 elderly people, many suffering with mental health illnesses. They explained that when people first come to the shelter, they are screened for TB. If their results are positive they are referred to St.Peter’s hospital for treatment. After their initial treatment at St. Peter’s, those residents are able to return to the homeless shelter where they receive directly observed treatment (DOT). Residents receiving DOT are supported and monitored by shelter staff, helping to ensure that they take the right drug at the right time for the full duration of treatment. There are currently two residents receiving treatment for TB at the shelter.
The visiting STREAM team took time to talk about TB transmission, diagnosis and treatment of TB/MDR-TB with residents and nursing staff. They also highlighted the importance of referring anyone with TB symptoms for screening as early as possible and the need for patients to adhere to treatment.
“By living here, we are susceptible to TB. There are at least 70 of us living together in a small space. Your visit has helped to raise awareness about the symptoms of TB and the importance of going to the clinic for evaluation. I have also learned what drug-resistant TB is and ways to prevent it,” said a resident at the shelter.
The STREAM St. Peter’s CAB will continue with community outreach activities to ensure the most vulnerable populations understand the signs and symptoms of TB and how to protect themselves from becoming infected.
The STREAM Clinical Trial is part of the TREAT TB project, a multi-year project funded by USAID, which seeks to contribute to new knowledge regarding shorter, more tolerable treatment regimens for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) through clinical trials of priority research questions, targeted operational research benefitting global, regional, and country TB control efforts.