TB Treatment is free but misdiagnosis forced Subekshya's family to spend two hundred fifty thousand rupees

By Gauri Shankar Joshi

Subekshya Poudel, 17-month old child, lives near Mahadevbeshi Health Post in Thakre Rural Municipality of Dhading district. Her father Ram Sharan Poudel transports sand as a truck-driver from nearby Jugedi River, and her mother Sumitra Poudel is a housewife. Both were happy to have Subekshya as their first child. But, their happiness was momentary when Subekshya fell sick as she turned 5 months old. At first, the parents thought that their daughter suffered from pneumonia and sought medicines accordingly, which helped for short period. But, the medicines stopped working, and upon discussions, she was brought to Kanti Children Hospital in Kathmandu for further treatment where initial reports also exhibited symptoms of pneumonia. She was admitted and treated for two days before being discharged from hospital. She was taken back home and supplied with all prescribed medicines, but to no improvement. Then, the parents took her to International Friendship Hospital where the regular check-ups and treatment of pneumonia showed no progress on Subekshya’s health.

Almost a year had passed by in between all these treatments and medications. Between a year’s time of August 2017 to July 2018, the couple spent two hundred fifty thousand rupees but there were no signs of improvement on their daughter’s health. Subekshya’s weight was 7 kilograms at the age of five months, which was her weight at 17 months’ age too. It was the parents’ daily routine to take Subekshya to hospital; Ram Sharan was under immense pressure to manage time and money.

Different blood tests finally showed TB infection in Subekshya. She was referred to Mahadevbeshi Health Post where she is now taking medicines for childhood TB according to DOTS system from 23 of July, 2018. Initially, she used to refuse to take medicines and vomit although she was provided medicines mixed in milk. With the intake of medicines for gastritis, she is now taking all required medicines, which has positively impacted her growth as well; she is now up to 9 kilograms. Mahadevbeshi Health Post Incharge Mr Nabaraj Bagale and Mamata Shrestha are assisting in Subekshya’s treatment and providing daily medicines. She will now have to take medicines for six months and visit hospital for regular follow-up.

It is very unfortunate that a childhood TB diagnosis took a year and such big amount was spent. In absence of timely diagnosis, Subekshya could have lost her life too. Good news is, she is now under regular treatment and showing signs of improvement. I wish for her speedy recovery and pray to God that she grows up to be an able citizen of Nepal.

Mr. Joshi was District Programme Officer for Dhading, he is now stationed at Lalitpur for ‘Support to NTP’ project.

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