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Fatima’s fight against tuberculosis

News   •   Feb 26, 2013 15:42 GMT

Fatima Suliman is 25 years old and has tuberculosis (TB), a destructive disease which claims a life every 15 seconds, despite being curable.

Starting with a simple cough and fever, for a while Fatima tried many types of treatment. Nothing was working and over time Fatima’s condition deteriorated. She was losing hope.

After a 17km journey to Nyala Teaching Hospital, the only place with TB treatment available near Kalma camp in Darfur, Sudan, Fatima found out she had TB. Her nine month treatment plan began immediately.

Conflict emerges, no more medicine

Six months later, conflict erupted and it was no longer safe to move outside the camp. Nonetheless, Fatima was determined and attempted to collect her medicine. Unfortunately, she failed.

With limited options, Fatima gave up and sadly stopped her treatment. Unsurprisingly, she became more ill and this time her three year old son started coughing too.

A second chance, life-saving treatment comes to Fatima’s doorstep

As time passed, her concern grew for her own and her child’s life. Fatima decided to try again and visited the Merlin Kalma clinic.

A doctor there confirmed that her son also had tuberculosis. Luckily, Merlin health workers swiftly started treatment for both of them. A Merlin healthworker visited Fatima and her son in the camp regularly, taking medication directly to them. This allowed Fatima and her son to stay safe, avoid the dangers of conflict and a long 17km journey for collection of medicine.

This ensured they were both cared for and treatment plans stayed on track. 

Fatima and her son have since completed their TB treatment and seen off the disease. They are the lucky few.

Putting the pieces together

Merlin is a symbol of hope for a population that has lived in isolation, uncertainty and conflict in Sudan. In Fatima’s words, “Now my son is healthy and has gained weight, and I am healthy, too. I don’t have enough words to thank Merlin for saving me and my son’s life”. 

In Sudan the health care system has been shattered after decades of conflict. Merlin have been working in Sudan since 1997, saving lives and providing care where it’s needed most. Despite great progress, tuberculosis continues to take away people’s lives and there is much more work to be done.


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