The Sunday Mail
Sharon Kavhu recently in Buhera
Deep in the south-eastern parts of Zimbabwe, Buhera is not one of the most famous or densely populated areas in the country, something that is surprising considering its rich farming history.The area which is situated in the Manicaland province thrives on the production of maize, millet (mhunga), groundnuts and cattle.
However, a sad tale is unfolding in this tranquil area.
Two-year-old Mike Chitubu (not real name) has had to endure excruciating pain at such an early stage of his life.
The young lad has only lived 25 months on this earth yet he has already received 192 medical injections and 224 tablets during that short period. Every week, Mike has to take 63 tablets. And this treatment still has to go on for the next 17 months.
Add all that up and you have one tormented young soul. Originally from Muchemwa Village, Mike’s sad story began way before he was even born, sometime after his mother fell pregnant at the tender age of 17 and was diagnosed with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), a chronic granulomatous disease caused by bacteria of the mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Unfortunately, his mother passed on the disease to Mike during breastfeeding.
“Medical reports for Mike’s mother indicate that she was diagnosed of TB in the second quarter of 2011 in Zvishavane but she was not put on treatment in that same year,” said Claison Nkomo, a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) nurse who has been attending to Mike.
TB is a contagious disease that can affect almost any part of the body though it mainly affects the lungs. DR-TB on the other hand, is a TB that is resistant to normal drugs.
Three months ago, Mike’s mother returned to her parents’ home and left him with her in-laws.
When The Sunday Mail visited the grandparents’ home last week, Mr Chitubu, Mike’s grandfather, opened up on his grandson’s sad life story.
Indeed it was a very touching and emotional tale. “Mike’s predicament began sometime last year when his mother left him in our custody.
“Without a mother’s love for the ailing toddler, every day has been a struggle for survival for the kid and it breaks my heart to see him in so much pain.
“During the past eight months, he has received injections all over his body. The injections have been so painful that nurses have started rotating the places where they inject him, so as to allow his body to heal,” said the 47-year-old-man.
“Late last year, that’s when his illness took a turn for the worst and he began taking medication, receiving 192 medical injections in the space of only eight months. “During the same period, he also took 224 tablets, nine a day to be exact.
“This medication will be administered for the next 17 months,” said the senior Chitubu heartbreakingly.
Mr Chitubu revealed that the worst moments for him and his wife was when they have to give Mike his medicine.
“One person has to hold his legs and hands while another briefly holds his nose to force him to swallow the crushed pills,” his voice broke as he explained the process that obviously hurts the toddler.
The ordeal with his grandson has, however, given Mr Chitubu a better appreciation of the disease.
“I didn’t know much about TB until it affected my daughter-in-law and grandson but since then I have learnt a lot about the infection and have a better understanding now.
“The infection requires a lot of air circulation to avoid spreading,” he said.
Medical experts revealed that TB treatment is almost the same for all age groups, with the only difference being in the tablets intake.