RESULTS Executive Director, Aaron Oxley, shares the exciting news that thanks to generous global support, TB advocate Phumeza Tisile is scheduled for surgery to regain the hearing that she lost from taking toxic TB drugs. While these drugs did not cure her TB, thankfully other new drugs did. Phumeza has survived both the disease and the treatment to become one of the world’s most powerful voices in the fight against TB.
In December I wrote a blog post about an inspirational woman called Phumeza Tisile. Phumeza, a long-standing friend of RESULTS, defeated XDR-TB (extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis), but the treatment, as it does for so many others, made her deaf.
This year she will be able to hear again, thanks to bilateral cochlear implants. This life-changing surgery is only possible thanks to incredible, generous donors from around the world, who gave USD $20,000 in just one month. To all of you reading who have helped this inspirational woman, thank you.
On her MSF TB blog, Phumeza talks about what defeating the silence and being able to hear again will mean to her. She says,
“Hearing again would mean that life is back on ‘’play’’ again. I will resume everything that has been on hold for so long. The best thing would be to go back to University. I was studying Commerce (Human Resource Management) before, but I’m thinking hard about what I want to do with my future. I learned from this experience that you might plan for a certain future but the universe might have a different plan for you.
I will continue advocating for change in DR-TB, because not many patients want to talk about TB after they have been cured. They would rather forget, but that does not help at all. How will the world know that this disease is still a problem if no one is willing to speak about it? Deafness is not the only side effect of the drugs. When I was in Paris at the Union Conference I learned that other patients went blind from their treatment. Others suffered from permanent nerve damage. I didn’t just go deaf: I was vomiting every single day, I got skin rashes and my skin got darker and darker. I will keep on letting people, the government and world health leaders know that the current treatment is a nightmare until things change.”
Whilst we cannot hope to help every single person who has been negatively affected by TB medication, we can – and will – join Phumeza in advocating for a greater global commitment to ending the devastating TB epidemic once and for all. We can stand up and demand adequate funding for research and development of new treatments, and for TB programmes, so that no one else has to tell a story like Phumeza’s. We can call for governments to ensure that the three million people who are missed by TB diagnosis and treatment are found and cured.
We will do all that we can. We hope you will join us.
You can read more about Phumeza’s amazing journey on her Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) blog.