In Turkmenistan, help in the battle against TB can be life-changing – for carers as well as those with the illness.
Maysa Amanora knows this all too well. She looks after her mother-in-law, Mamajan, who is recovering from TB.
They live together in the town of Mary, Turkmenistan. In Turkmenistan, women are often expected to care for sick relatives. This can take a huge amount of time and effort, particularly in large families.
The responsibility can limit women’s independence, and makes it harder or impossible for them to earn money. That’s why outside help has made a big difference to the lives of both Mamajan and Maysa.
Stuck in bed… and worried about the future
TB can be fatal, and recovering from it takes months or even years. Mamajan’s illness left her miserable, in pain and stuck in bed. The 58-year-old was worried she would never leave her house again.
As well as keeping her mother-in-law clean and comfortable, Maysa has tried to lift her spirits. “I try to encourage her. I buy her clothes and shoes, just to make her happy. To make a change in her life.”
Maysa is not alone. Nurses from the Turkmenistan Red Crescent – a partner of the British Red Cross – bring Mamajan medication and parcels full of nutritious food and essential toiletries. A good diet is essential for TB medication to work.
Mamajan is always pleased when the parcels arrive. “She particularly likes the raisins and apricot seeds,” Maysa says. The nurses also reassure Mamajan and answer her questions about the illness, such as how long it might take her to recover.
Now Mamajan’s appetite has returned, the medication is working and she is feeling much better. She is able to get up and walk short distances.
The Red Crescent help has made Mamajan much happier, and means she is more likely to beat the illness. And the boost to Mamajan’s recovery eases the pressure on her daughter-in-law. “The support makes my life better too,” Maysa says.
- In 2015, the Red Crescent is aiming to help 370 people complete their TB treatment – and 26,200 members of the public learn the facts about the illness. Read more about the programme [LINK to BRC Turkmenistan page], which is supported by the British Red Cross.