Finding TB cases in Bolikhamxay – When field staff turn into detectives
Our TC TB project in Bolikhamxay has found 69 TB clients up to date, and 25 people have already completed their treatment. Every TB case is different, and some are easier to find than others. Field staff, Village Health Workers and Health Centre staff have become more confident and experienced with collecting and transporting sputum samples, and thus more and more good quality samples arrive for GeneXpert testing in Pakxan. The project has therefore seen an increase in cases identified by GeneXpert which is very positive.
However, sometimes, samples test negative and yet people continue to experience TB symptoms. In these cases, HPP Laos field staff and Village Health Workers closely follow up and stay in contact with people for three or four weeks. If symptoms persist, HPP Laos supports presumptive TB clients to be checked by chest X-ray in a province hospital, and organises transport for them. Mr Vieng Sihalat from Ban Viengkham in Pakkading District is one person affected by TB who was diagnosed in this way:
“I attended an awareness meeting of the HPP Laos TB project in my village. I did not know about TB symptoms before, and I compared them to what I was feeling like. As I did have symptoms and wanted to be tested, I gave a sputum sample, but the test result was negative. I still had symptoms and the HPP Laos team continued to follow up with me, and finally I was checked and diagnosed by X-ray. The HPP Laos team supported me to access treatment and gave me eight ducklings and vegetable seeds for gardening. I learned new things about vegetable growing from the field staff, and they taught me how to raise ducks as a source of protein.”