After an almost solid 2 months of having in-patients at the Jeevan Sahara Kendra Community Care Centre, we faced a small lull last week. After discharging our young mother Sarah on Tuesday morning - we did not have any more admissions. It was strange to have all the nurses with us again in our morning staff meetings. And strange to have empty beds.
All that changed this morning.
Four patients came for admission. We wanted to admit all 4 of them. Three are with us this evening.
Tragically one young lady - only weighing 27 kgs - and most probably infected with TB meningitis - just did not have the family support to stay here. Her mother and her sister are both heavily pregnant - and her uncle refused to stay with her. It was heart-breaking to see her leave - especially as she really wanted to be here - and we think she has a very poor prognosis if she goes home.
The other three are with us. All of them are suffering from TB. We are suddenly in a season of TB - and it seems that for some reason people are not responding well to the medications that we have given in the past. Please pray for us as this apparent failure is starting to weigh down heavily on us.
We just crossed World TB Day on the 24th of March. India continues to have the dubious distinction of having the largest numbers of people with TB in the world - and the highest numbers of deaths. We also have a situation where TB drugs are prescribed left, right and centre - with very little to follow up on whether they are actually being taken - which is giving rise to increasing amounts of Multi-Drug Resistant TB.
People with HIV are especially susceptible to getting TB. It is estimated that almost every person with HIV in India will eventually get TB. Sheba recently attended a workshop where the message was - screen everyone with TB for HIV and check everyone who has HIV for TB.
We want to help people with TB - especially our HIV positive friends when they are so sick and in need of help - and yet the threat to our staff is also there. One of our staff members is already being treated for TB - which has really sent a shock wave through the team.
Suddenly we have a sense of fear that just was not there before. A heavy presence. Our patients now all wear masks. Should all of the staff wear masks too?
At what point does our 'care' about TB start giving way to fear - and actually making us more susceptible to the disease because we are so afraid of it?
We pray for protection - and need to be more regular in our prayers. And move forward with courage.