Savithri and her daughter Vani have recently completed the gruelling treatment regime for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). They live in India which currently has the highest burden of tuberculosis (TB) worldwide.

Savithri was first diagnosed with TB by a local village doctor after suffering from a persistent cough, fevers and loss of appetite. Her weight dropped to just five-and-a-half stone.

The village doctor prescribed her with antibiotic drugs; however Savithri prioritised caring for her daughter and husband over her own health, and did not take her treatment correctly.

Lack of support

She did not receive advice and support from her village doctor about the importance of sticking to the treatment.

As a consequence, Savithri developed a more serious type of TB: multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). Her illness persisted, and sadly she passed it on to her 21-year-old daughter Vani.

They were referred to Lepra, where our staff diagnosed them both with MDR-TB. Upon diagnosis, Savithri cried, “Why has this happened to me? I was getting disappointed and depressed that it wasn’t going away.”

She prides herself on being a very good mother and was devastated to learn that Vani had caught the deadly TB strain from her. “I was feeling very bad and I cried for days when I found out my daughter had the same disease.”

Gruelling treatment

The treatment is expensive, complex and highly intensive. It lasts for up to two years and causes really unpleasant side effects. We provided Savithri and Vani with their daily treatment and monitored them closely.

Every single day for two years, they were directly observed swallowing 12 medicine capsules and receiving an antibiotic injection.

It is no wonder that some patients have difficulty adhering to the regime and stop taking treatment.

Savithri and Vani are now cured. Savithri’s sense of well-being has increased; she is putting on weight and is returning to good health.