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Interview with a drug-resistant tuberculosis patient

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How did you know you had contracted multi-resistant tuberculosis?

"Eight months ago, I fell sick. I went to the hospital at Zugdidi, where I have lived for the last few years: before the 1992 war, I lived in Abkhazia - I am Georgian, but I had to leave the region in order to stay safe - like 200,000 other people. "I stopped in the first city, Zugdidi, five kilometres from the border with Abkhazia. Abkhazia province wants autonomy from Georgia. At Zugdidi hospital, the tests showed I had multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis. I was hospitalised on 23 July and started getting treatment. Two months later they said I could leave hospital and continue my treatment at home. "MSF modernised a room in my house so that I can live decently with my wife and three children. I attend hospital every day for my treatment, and in over eight months, I haven't missed a single time!"

What has changed since you've been receiving treatment for multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis?

"Before, I couldn't run or walk normally. I couldn't work. I had even lost my voice, completely. I was very sick. Today, my voice is still broken, but it's getting better. In the beginning, I found it very hard to take medicines. But I got used to it, and now I follow my treatment properly."

What support have you received from MSF?

"They've helped a lot. They did work on my house so that I could return home. I get food aid every two weeks. They bought me a stove and wood so that I can stay warm over the winter. I've had a lot of help. They also bought me warm clothing and school books for the children. And in particular, they provide the treatment at Zugdidi hospital so I get the care I need. My health is coming back, slow but sure."

Why did you decide to accept the treatment?

"I wanted to avoid contaminating my family and transmitting the illness to them as well. I wanted to keep them safe. Today, thanks to the treatment, I'm no longer infectious. I really wanted the care, and even though there's a lot of medicines to take every day, I can do it. I have to take doctors' orders -- they told me the treatment would last two years."

How do you see the future?

"In the future, I intend taking the treatment like I've done so far. And when I'm better, I'd like to go back to work."