MDR Tuberculosis in Swaziland

The United Nations just released the following video concerning Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis in Swaziland (MDR-TB).  In the rural Lubombo Lowveld where Cabrini works, this is a particularly troubling issue.

While this video shows an entirely different area of the country than where Cabrini is based, the issues and responses are entirely the same.  MRD-TB is extremely dangerous, easy to transmit and requires months of treatment.  It can develop out of “regular” TB or can be passed on directly.  Patients with MDR-TB have to take extreme precautions to avoid transmission and must dedicate themselves to extensive treatment.  As pointed out in the video, this is difficult considering the limited resources in much of Swaziland.

Local experts predict that in the coming years, MDR-TB will become the dominate strain of Tuberculosis in the country.  This means more deaths, more expensive treatment, and higher risks for populations that have already been decimated by the HIV crisis.

While most of the patients treated by Cabrini Ministries are HIV+ clients, a growing number  receive services for TB.  In 2011, there were 125 people who received TB treatment.  As outlined in the video above, adherence is essential and that often means traveling deep into the bush to provide medication and other health care related services.  This work is labor and cost intensive considering the rugged rural setting we operate in.  Yet, because with HIV and TB, adherence is essential part of stopping the epidemic we are dedicated to reaching our clients regardless of their location or situation.  This includes setting up remove refill locations as well as sending adherence specialists and outreach nurses out into the communities on a daily basis.

If you would like to know more about work related to Tuberculosis or would like to donate to help support our work in this area, please contact us at info@cabriniministries.org or click on the DONATE button above.

Note: Nathi Gumede, who is quoted in this video from the Red Cross, serves on the Board for Cabrini Ministries Swaziland.  We are grateful for his service to our organization and the country as a whole.

Technology Upgrades and Thanks!

In Swaziland, you find things either change very quickly or not at all.  We have seen huge advances in treatment for HIV/AIDS in the past couple years, but other things like infrastructure (electricity and roads) seems to be going back in town.

Technology is one area that seems to move forward either quickly or not at all.  Lately we have seen some incredible advances that have allowed us to work at a new level of efficiency.  The cellular networks were recently upgraded to allow for fast (but expensive) access on a new 3G network.  We can now skype and have reliable access to essential tools like email.  We have also installed a new internal wireless network on the mission that allows staff members to communicate back and forth and share documents — a luxury unimaginable just 6 months ago.

These new capabilities have also allowed us to form new connections with the outside world.  As you can probably tell if you are reading this post online, we have upgraded our web presence to include a revamped website while still maintaining all of the previous posts from the older blog.  We have also set up a twitter account and a facebook page.  You can subscribe to updates via email or put the feed into an aggregator like google reader.  All of these tools will allow us to better share the story of Cabrini Ministries and keep you up to date on what is happening in rural Swaziland.  Isn’t technology amazing?

In moving forward, it is certainly important that we remember where we have come from and how we got here.  A very special thanks needs to go out to Erika Baehr for the behind the scenes, yet essential role she played in getting the first website up and going and keeping it updated.  Despite the fact Erika has yet to travel to Swaziland, she has been able to share the stories of the mission as one who is truly ingrained into the ongoing work.  Everything we have now is built on the work she did several years ago.  Thank you Erika!

We also want to thank our friends at Cabrini College who have provided technical and practical support to our work.  They not only assisted with the transition, but have provided on the ground input in areas such as marketing, business development, and education.  A special thanks goes out to the leadership of the college as well as the implementors who helped to make this possible.

The more things progress in the Lubombo lowveld of Swaziland, the more we are remind just how connected we are with our friends and supporters across the world.  Thank you all for everything you do and have done.  We look forward to continuing to share the story that happens in the bush, but is facilitated by people world-wide.