Fighting TB with the San
A member of the San in D'Kar demonstrates the thumb piano.
But the D'Kar-based Kuru Family of Organisations (KFO) has taken up the task with a renewed sense of urgency. Working in some of the most remote areas of Botswana, KFO has established a Community TB Care Program to assist the government’s efforts to control TB among the San
KFO services marginalized communities in the Ghanzi, Kgalagadi and Okavango districts. Sponsored by the Global Fund and other international organizations, team mobilizers work with communities to identify and train local people in TB prevention and Directly Observed Therapy short course (DOTS).
Handover of medical waste trailers to the Botswana Defense Force
With support from PEPFAR, John Snow International (JSI) has been the primary implementer of the injection safety program in Botswana. JSI has worked with the Botswana Defense Force providing training to 70 percent of the BDF’s health care workers. JSI has also provided medical waste bins, repaired incinerators and distributed protective clothing and cleaning equipment for BDF health staff. In February, JSI handed over the medical waste trailers (pictured above) as part of the continued support to the BDF.
KFO has also established a Community Health Communications Center to help translate health-related materials into Naro, Jul’hoansi and other more common dialects used in the area. “Language is a major barrier in that would-be patients cannot express themselves or explain their ailments to the health workers, and they miss out on receiving appropriate treatment instruction from the health workers,” KFO community health specialist Laura Martindale says.
One of the most recent projects has been a 14-minute video about TB called "Re Batla Botshelo” (We Want Life). The video was done in the Naro dialect with voice-overs in other San dialects. The video was made to guide trained facilitators in the field.
Language is just one of the challenges faced by KFO and the District Health Teams that service the San communities. The tribes are highly mobile, which has made adherence to treatment difficult, and has also led to the export of TB and other illnesses from one area to another.
The links between HIV and TB also pose a major challenge in the fight against the disease. But the organization has worked closely with the District Health Team to find solutions. For instance, traditional birth attendants among the San are now being educated on the risks of contamination of blood and are supplied with gloves. "We try to strengthen the traditional healers’ leadership skills. They can refer patients to clinics and hospitals," Martindale says.