People Affected by TB (PATB) hold monthly gatherings in Mandalay’s 7 townships
One of the activities of Myanmar's Program to Increase Catchment of TB Suspects (PICTS) is to build a strong community among TB patients, so that they can support each other and serve as TB ambassadors. This has led to the formation of PATB (People Affected by TB) groups that gather each month in the seven townships of greater Mandalay.
PATB has proved to be very popular and one recent gathering in Pyi Gyi Ta Gon Township attracted 70 PATB participants, as well as the TB field supervisor, volunteers and Township Health Centre staff. The purpose of these monthly gatherings is to encourage participants to join in the fight against tuberculosis. Topics of discussion range from understanding the symptoms of TB and side effects of TB treatment to sharing their own experiences with the disease. Leaders also distribute information on how to be a TB ambassador and encourage any symptomatic person in their surroundings to seek care.
An exercise book is used to support these discussions. The signs and symptoms of TB are described on the cover pages. Participants were requested to share information about HIV testing in TB patients and report their feelings and experiences of HIV testing among patients currently on treatment, recovered TB patients and their family members. After the meetings, participants are assigned homework activities, such as writing stories about their families or anything they want to share about the experience of having TB.
One mother told the story of her son who suffered from TB. She wrote, "Even though I love my son more than I can say, I don't how to take care of his health and how to guide him to properly prevent serious diseases." When her son contracted TB, she was shocked and confused about what to do. Fortunately, a former TB patient guided her and gave her information about TB treatment and how it is free of charge at the Township Health Centers. There the doctors and health workers explained TB to her and instructed her patiently and carefully on how her son had to take his treatment regularly. Now, her son has recovered and they are both free from this anxiety-provoking situation. She is very happy and grateful for the goodwill of the health workers and supporters. As for her, she says she will contribute her spare time to giving information about TB to her peers.