Their slogan is “dare to care” which is exactly what a group of second year medial students at the UNAM School of Medicine are doing. Feeling personally moved by losing family members to tuberculosis (TB) and at the shocking conditions in which patients are expected to await their recovery within, the Infectious Disease Relief Society was born last year and through their active fund raising they are tackling not only the conditions in which TB patients are living but also the stigma around TB.
According to Anna-Vanessa Ilukena the stigma towards TB comes as a result of “limited education around this disease”. Anna-Vanessa is a second year medical student who says that it was only because of her studies that she learnt that “many people are actually infected with TB that is latent and therefore lies dormant not posing a risk until triggered”. She also states that “we have a perception that TB is highly infectious, which it can be however as soon as patients go onto their treatment, you can no longer contract the disease from them.”
This coupled with the society’s deep desire to create a state of health that doesn’t just look at physical wellbeing alone but also looks at improvement of social and spiritual wellbeing, will see the Infectious Disease Relief Society plan amongst other things, a clean-up at the TB ward of the Katutura State Hospital, a landscaping project in the gardens of the hospital and a shoe box program that will supply patients with basic necessities.
Another one of the names behind the Infectious Disease Relief Society is Rosalia Shuuya, who when sitting down with 99FM’s MYD Heart, said that in the words of one of her favourite authors “the thing is that it is not enough to give people stuff, people need real empowerment and opportunities to change their circumstances”
While patients are on treatment, they will have to be based at the State hospital’s TB ward for sometimes up to 24 months. Considering the conditions that the patients have to live in, the societies founders believe that change doesn’t just happen, it’s initiated to happen by people and so they are taking this their first step to improve the lives of TB patients and hope you’ll join them.
You can reach them through their Facebook page here : IDRS
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