Ambiya's Story: A teenager cured of multidrug-resistant TB

  • Meeting Ambiya, one wouldn’t suspect that this vibrant and positive15-year-old has been facing a life-threatening illness for the past two years. Ambiya was diagnosed with Multiple drug-resistant Tuberculosis, which can’t be cured by normal TB medication

    In Indonesia, treatment for MDR-TB became available only in 2009. Learning of Ambiya’s diagnosis, and having lost her husband to TB, Ambiya’s mother was determined to help her daughter to be cured

    During the rainy season, the river which runs beside her home flooded the narrow alleys, so Ambiya and her mother had to wade through the cold and dirty water to go to the hospital for her daily treatment

    It was vital that Ambiya’s doctors supervise her treatment on a daily basis, as the slightest lapse could have made her immune to the drugs. The practice of observing a patient taking their medication each day to ensure adherence is a key aspect of strategies to combat TB, both for drug resistant and drug-sensitive tuberculosis

    Ambiya’s treatment required her to take 11 pills per day, and the medicines cause nausea, adding to the challenge of getting them all down. Crushing the pills into a paste makes the medicines easier to swallow

    The hour-long bus-ride to and from the TB clinic, and the trying process of taking the medicines is something that Ambiya and her mother have had to do every day for the past 18 months

    “Before 2009, MDR-TB patients were not given anything,” says Ambiya’s doctor, Erlina Burnham. “They would most likely die due to respiratory failure.” When the drugs were made available through support from a Global Fund grant she was delighted be able to offer treatment her MDR-TB patients

    For Ambiya, the end of this difficult time is in sight. Although she may always have the scars in her lungs left by tuberculosis, she’s just two months away from a full recovery and the end of her treatment

    Soon she’ll be able to go back to just being a normal teenager

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Published: 21 March 2013

Meet Ambiya, a 15-year-old girl in Jakarta, Indonesia being treated for drug resistant tuberculosis, through support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Read More: World TB Day – 24 March 2013