This Sunday (24 March) is World TB Day which is designed to build public awareness about tuberculosis which is still a leading cause of death worldwide killing nearly one and a half million people.
In Coventry, we have a dedicated TB team based on the third floor of the City of Coventry Health Centre in Stoney Stanton Road, who work tirelessly to support patients and their carers with TB and try to reduce the stigma and spread of TB. Today, to mark World TB Day, we will find out a bit more about what their daily jobs involve.
Our days are never the same; we see a variety of different people every day. Whether they are patients of ours, other Health Professionals or someone who knows someone with TB!
Many people think that TB has been eradicated and that it is something from the Victorian era, but we can assure you that there is TB out there and the TB team are there to support patients and their carers with TB and the associated stigma. We do our best to reduce the spread of TB.
We support new TB patients who are sometimes scared and anxious; a friendly TB team member will see them at home or in hospital and go through the treatment together to work out a plan and a way forward. We explain how to take the medication, which is usually for six months, so that our patients are informed and know what is expected.
We take our time to find out who the TB patient has spent time with and can reassure those individuals. The TB team will screen all those people who need to be screened; whether they be young or old, close family, friends or work colleagues such as in a factory or an office.
The TB team have built up good relationships with many different organisations that can support our patients. This helps us to put in place practical help for our patients. We link up with Coventry Citizens Advice who supports our patients with benefits, housing problems etc. Change Grow Live (the drug and alcohol service) helps us with those patients who have problems with drugs or alcohol.
Some patients need help with their immigration status or visa, so we can help with connecting people to the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre. It’s important to feel safe and secure and that you have a place to stay, with food you can cook while having TB treatment. Recovering from TB can take time and support from our team is in some cases essential.
Not every TB patient finds it easy to take their treatment and sometimes they need extra help. At the moment there are a quite a few patients who require this increased support and we spend a lot of our day finding them to make sure they are well; we also take their medication to them and support them to take it.
We are developing a programme to screen for TB (using a blood test), for people who have recently settled in our area from areas of the world where there are high levels of TB. Sometimes TB can be “asleep” in the body and cause no harm - this is called Latent TB. This programme aims to treating the sleeping TB before it wakes up and causes illness, which can be infectious to others
We love to talk about TB and if anyone would like to improve their knowledge around this subject, we would be very happy to provide TB Awareness sessions. We would love to hear from you if you know of a way to engage with the community or with groups of staff, perhaps on a Health Awareness day.
You can contact the TB team on: 02476 961351 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org