Tuberculosis Survivor intends to raise awareness through Non

Kanego Lewele

MPHENI VILLAGE: :Tshilidzi Siobo, a 28-year-old young woman from Mphego village, Thulamela municipality in Vhembe district wants to start an NGO to raise awareness on the fight against TB. Siobo is a TB survivor and she is now a TB ambassador teaching people about the disease, particularly the youth.

Siobo was among the speakers during the Provincial World TB Day held in Mothuhadini combined school in Mpheni village. The theme for this year's commemoration is 'Invest in Action to End TB Now! Get Screened. End Stigma. Saves Lives.' She says she still finds it disturbing that that majority of young people in this province, particularly those living in rural areas still believe in myth that "only the elders are prone to Tuberculosis."

"TB does not discriminate, it does not know the colour of your skin, age group, level of your education or your income, anyone can be infected by this dreadful disease," she said. A mother of one told the attendees that after losing almost 15 kilograms of weight and experiencing multiple TB symptoms such as loss of appetite, chest pains, sweat at night, always feeling weak and so forth, she finally took a decision to visit a local clinic.

"After consultation I was diagnosed with TB and I was so scared, asking myself questions such as why me? Where did I get this disease and many other depressing questions." The treatment period was never an easy journey for Siobo. "It marked the beginning of a lonely and very depressing journey for me," she recalls.

Apart from losing close friends who did not want to be associated with her any longer, Siobo says she also went through a lot as she had to endure sporadic diarrhoea or vomit while taking on treatment. Having completed her treatment and declared TB free, Siobo now believe she owes it to the community and want to plough back.

"Today I"m here speaking in front of you as a TB free young woman and still beautiful," as she grins. "From the bottom of my heart I really want to thank our Government, the department of HEALTH under the leadership of Dr. Phophi Ramathuba for the treatment I received." " As part of my initiative to plough back I want to start my own NGO targeting mainly youth so that I can help in awareness to fight this monster called TB." Siobo emphasized.

TB remains one of the major communicable diseases causing ill health and death world-wide. It is rated in the top 10 causes of death and the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent (ranking above HIV/AIDS) for the past decade. According to Department of Health's Annual Performance Report 2020/21, Limpopo province is at 12.5% death rate and this increased to 14.8% in the first three quarters of 2021/2022 because most patients presented while on an advanced stage of TB disease.

Health MEC Dr. Phophi Ramathuba also made a clarion call for young people to take the lead in fighting against TB and HIV/AIDS. "Young people must be change agents so that they can play a leading role in informing, educating and mobilising other young people, adults, families and their respective communities to do what is necessary to help end these epidemics," said the MEC.

MEC Ramathuba says the Government rely on young people to achieve the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals.