Migration Health

Healthy Migrants in Healthy Communities

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Surviving TB Disease in Indonesia

Date Published: 
Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nineteen year old EM fled Afghanistan after being threatened by the local armed group (Taliban) that had already killed his cousin. He paid US$8,000 to be smuggled from Afghanistan through India and Malaysia to Indonesia.

His father passed away several years ago due to natural causes and his mother is still in Afghanistan, and he is worried for her safety.

"I knew very little about tuberculosis before being diagnosed while staying at the Pontianak immigration detention centre. I was worried that I’d contracted a serious disease because my weight dropped after 10 days of chest pains and bloody coughing. An IOM medical officer sent me to hospital where a sputum test determined I had pulmonary TB.

Over time I’ve learned a lot about TB, that it’s an infectious airborne disease caused by bacteria which can spread by talking face-to-face or coughing. I took my medications for nine and a half and half months, starting with 5 ½ tabs, then four and finally two daily. Thanks to the case management by the IOM medical officers, I understood how important it was not to miss a single day during this time.

Fear was most difficult thing to deal with. The pain in my chest made sleeping very difficulty and I felt isolated and ignored by my friends who avoided me because they were worried about getting sick.

I’m feeling much better now and I’m working to increase my body weight.

My advice to others it to make sure they always take their medicine at the right time and exercise until they get well."