Russia: Psychosocial care for TB patients

Published: 23 March 2011 14:51 CET

The Russian Red Cross Society in the Republic of Khakassia, Siberia, has established a social club – called White Camomile – for tuberculosis patients. Patients are provided with comprehensive information about the disease and its treatment, and – as they all have TB in common – they can share their feelings and support each other.Those who fully recover are invited to share their experience, helping to boost current patients’ confidence.These former patients have established a team of volunteers providing regular psychosocial support to TB patients who are prone to defaulting on their treatment.

Vladimir, 42, is one such volunteer. Doctors discovered he had TB when they examined him for a broken rib. He treated the news as a death sentence and, while undergoing treatment, he became severely depressed and left the programme.

“My friends left me and people I knew tried to avoid contact with me even though I was not infectious. Then the woman I loved also left me. I felt like the whole world had abandoned me,” Vladimir recalls. His former doctor recommended he continue treatment through the Red Cross, and it was Red Cross staff who were there for him through the difficult times.

“When I was coming to take my medicine, I spent a lot of time talking to Red Cross nurses, which made me feel better,” he says.

Some time later he started to attend White Camomile, which he refers to as a “TB patients’ brotherhood”. Vladimir is now completely free of TB. He is back to work and normal life, but he tries to visit the club from time to time in order to explain to newcomers the importance of a responsible and positive attitude to treatment.