Buddy – A friend that helps kids beat TB
Western Cape Government Health at Brewelskloof TB Hospital in Worcester, together with partners, USAID TB CareII today introduced a new character, called Buddy aimed at helping children to recover.
TB in children presents a few unique challenges, besides the treatment period of up to two years in the event of Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB; there is the real difficulty of children sometimes requiring long stays in hospital to ensure full adherence and recovery. Children are more susceptible to TB; furthermore more than half of children diagnosed with TB live or are in regular contact with an adult who has been diagnosed with TB. In South Africa TB remains one of the five leading causes of death in children under 15 (STATS SA, 2013).
The psychological effects on children being hospitalised, often far from their families together with the often debilitating side effects of medication, makes treating TB not only unpleasant for children, but the experience has a profound effect on their emotional well-being.
It is against this backdrop that USAID TB Care II Project South Africa in partnership with Western Cape Government Health developed a “TB Character” concept known as Buddy Beat TB (commonly known as Buddy) that will serve as a companion to paediatric patients through the treatment journey. This partnership seeks to improve patient adherence and treatment outcomes in child TB patients. Buddy, is a cat born in the ‘hospital’ that acts as a companion to children. Through a well-researched programme, Buddy promotes understanding of the illness, helps small patients express their worries and assists children in becoming more at ease in the hospital surroundings.
The fact that the children at Brewelskloof TB were involved in the development of the character makes this initiative more special.
Children at Worcester’s Brewelskloof TB Hospital, which accommodates 64 children with TB at a time were the first to be officially introduced to Buddy. Their absolute delight at meeting the character himself was evidenced in their happy faces and their willingness to partake in all the fun activities that took place.
March is TB Month, with International TB Day taking place on 24 March 2016. Many people assume that the illness cannot infect or affect them. This is a dangerous attitude to take; TB is not fussy, anyone can contract it. And we can all beat it! Taking and completing medication is vital to ensure complete recovery. If you have any of the following symptoms, a cough that has lasted longer than two weeks, night sweats, weight loss and loss of appetite and tiredness, please visit your clinic or health professional today.
Western Cape Government Health is proud to be involved with URC TB Care II SA’s Buddy Project. Buddy will visit TB hospitals in the Western Cape and is available to visit schools and other organisations wishing to educate children and help eradicate TB.