Treating TB in our Schools

“I like playing football, I always join the training with my team at ISF Stung Meanchey, but in the past I was not good. I got very tired after playing only a short time. Now I can play for a long time, I have the strength and power to play and I am happy to play a lot with my team.”  Vannak – ISF student.

Vannak is one of ISF’s students who had been diagnosed with Tuberculosis (TB) during the past 6 months and is getting treatment on the way to becoming healthy.

TB is an infectious disease that is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected. About one-third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease.

Since November 2015, ISF’s nurses have been working with the National Center for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control to test all our students for TB and get them appropriate treatment. So far, 427 of our students have been tested. 44 of these students have been diagnosed with latent TB and 14 have fallen ill with the disease. People who have latent TB bacteria have a 10% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. However, persons with compromised immune systems, such as people living with malnutrition have a much higher risk of falling ill. This is why our nurses closely monitor the 44 students who have been infected.

Together with Dr. Pheaktra, our medical consultant at the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) our nurses have initiated a treatment plan for the 14 children who have fallen ill with TB. ISF’s nurses work closely with the parents to ensure students adhere to the medical regiment. Every weekday, they come to the nurses’ office to take their medicine. As TB is highly contagious, our nurses also encourage the families of these children to get tested.

Over the past 5 months, we have seen marked improvements in 50% of the TB cases. 7 students are rapidly improving and getting stronger. The remaining 7 are improving more slowly, ISF’s nurses are working with the National Center for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control to diagnose their difficulties and ensure they get appropriate treatment.

Bopha is one of the students infected with TB. She works hard to get better and listens closely to the nurse’s advice. Her health has improved remarkably; she has gained more weight and regained her appetite. Bopha said “Before I eat a little rice and I am weak, tired and don’t want to play much with friends. I was also coughing a lot. After the nurses give me medicine I eat much more rice. I am strong, now and I am not coughing anymore. I am happy to learn and play with friends.”