Tuberculosis (TB) threatens the lives of thousands of people, many of them already vulnerable, in Turkmenistan.
That’s why the Red Crescent Society of Turkmenistan is giving practical and emotional support to people getting treatment for this dangerous but curable disease. The organisation also tackles stigma and discrimination by sharing information with the public about TB.
The programme supports people with TB and their families in the cities of Ashgabat, Dashoguz, Mary, Tejen and Turkmenabat. Funding from the British Red Cross helped it reach 32,538 people in 2013.
Check ups and food parcels
Red Crescent nurses carry out check-ups and home visits on people getting TB treatment, which can be a long and difficult process. Because staying strong is an important part of recovering from the illness, the programme gives food and hygiene parcels to some particularly vulnerable patients.
Many people who’ve beaten the illness with support from the Red Crescent then volunteer for the organisation, using their own experience to help others.
The Red Crescent has also set up peer support groups to allow people with TB to share and discuss the problems they are facing with others. And it helps the families and friends of people with TB, who may be at risk of falling ill themselves, get screening for the disease.
There is still a lot of stigma surrounding TB and people affected by it often find themselves cut off from society. This stigma makes those who think they might have TB less likely to seek treatment. But by raising awareness of the disease Red Crescent staff and volunteers are tackling discrimination and encouraging more people to get help.
Plays, musical performances and events in schools have raised public awareness of the illness, and brochures and leaflets about TB have been given out in places like factories, supermarkets and football grounds. In 2013 alone 13,979 people were reached through public events.
The Red Crescent also works with police officers and government workers to make them more aware of the effects of TB.