Profile of Teno
9 October 2001
Teno Worku is in Kahsay Abera hospital in Humera, Ethiopia. He doesn't get any visitors. His only family, his mother, lives 300 km further south in Gondar. "I'm a commercial traveller and I pass through this region a lot. Five months ago I took ill. I had a headache and a fever, so I went back to Gondar to see a doctor. He treated me for malaria. But a month later I still hadn't recovered." Frail and emaciated, the 28-year-old looks at least ten years older than his age. Eventually, Teno went to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa for tests. Four months later, not a single doctor had been able to explain his symptoms. Bitterly disappointed and by now critically ill, he returned to his mother in Gondar, where, at long last, a doctor in a private clinic suspected kala azar and advised him to go to Humera. "The doctor said that this hospital is specialized in kala azar. Tests showed that I did have the disease, and the injections were begun right away. I was very late starting the treatment but I'm getting a bit better every day," he says, sounding as if he is trying to convince himself more than anyone else. Teno is about to receive his twentieth injection. He grits his teeth and braces himself for a painful experience. The needle has to penetrate deep into the upper buttock in order to inject the fluid into the muscle tissue.