Segments in this Video

Tuberculosis Epidemic (05:37)


Tuberculosis is widespread in Swaziland. Twelve-year-old Nokubheka and 17-year-old Melusi were orphaned after their mother died from the disease. Nokubheka also has TB.

Mutations of Tuberculosis (03:18)

Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB, is a mutation of the disease, which is much harder to treat. Melusi finds out Nokubheka has MDR-TB, the same strain which killed their mother. She must go live at an isolation hospital two hours away.

Tuberculosis and HIV (05:30)

About 25% of the adult population in Swaziland has HIV and their weakened immune systems have contributed to the spread of TB. Siblings Bheki and Zandile both have MDR-TB and HIV. There is a stigma with talking about both diseases, but their mother, Nicholin, is a trained caregiver who convinced them to seek treatment early.

Treatments for Tuberculosis (03:56)

The spread of MDR-TB has led to a combination of medications being used as treatment, which can cause severe side effects. Doctors Without Borders works with the Swaziland government to provide TB treatment. The side effects can be so bad, some patients stop taking their medication.

Spread of MDR-TB (04:21)

MDR-TB used to develop in someone who already had TB but did not seek treatment. The disease mutated and people like Nokubheka became directly infected with MDR-TB. Her brother, Melusi, takes her to the TB hospital, where she will live and receive injections until she is no longer infectious.

Side Effects from Tuberculosis Treatment (06:19)

Zandile was taken to the local hospital after losing too much weight from vomiting as a side effect from her medication. Her doctor stopped her medication, so she could gain weight, which might cause the disease to mutate further. The treatment for MDR-TB is so difficult more than half who start it stop before completing it.

Treatment at Tuberculosis Hospital (08:04)

Nokubheka has been at the national TB hospital for three months and receiving pills and injections every day. She finds it boring and does not like the food. Despite precautions at the hospital, two of the nurses have caught MDR-TB.

Isolation in TB Hospital (02:51)

Nokubheka is the only child at the TB hospital and her friend Sabile feels she is missing her childhood. Melusi is saving money to make the trip to visit her.

Frustration with TB Treatment (08:42)

Bheki is considering giving up treatment because of the number of pills he must take. Zandile is having further side effects, such as hearing loss, while in the hospital.

Injections for Tuberculosis (06:38)

Nokubheka has been receiving the injections to treat TB for six months. The injections are a 40-year-old drug that can cause kidney problems and deafness. Nokubheka has seen multiple patients die since entering the hospital.

Extensively Drug Resistant TB (06:47)

Nokubheka's friend Sabile is worried she has extensively drug resistant TB, or XDR-TB. About 10% of MDR-TB cases mutate into XDR, which is almost impossible to cure. A patient with XDR checked herself out of the hospital to spend her final weeks at home.

Death from TB (05:52)

Bheki describes his family's grief as they have Zandile's funeral. A memorial candle fell in Bheki's house during the funeral and some of his medication was destroyed.

Leaving the TB Hospital (05:21)

Nokubheka is no longer infectious and can leave the hospital. Melusi is still at school and cannot afford for her to come home. She is sent to live with a foster family and must take medication for another year.

Living with TB (04:50)

Bheki is struggling to keep up with his medication. New drugs are becoming available but most people in Swaziland cannot afford them. Bheki and his mother cope with Zandile's death.

Future of Tuberculosis Epidemic (03:41)

Nokubheka's friend Sabile discharges herself from the hospital after her XDR diagnosis. Tuberculosis continues to spread easily through Swaziland and remains difficult to treat.

Credits: TB Silent Killer (00:59)

Credits: TB Silent Killer

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With more than 8 million new infections every year, virulent new drug-resistant strains emerging faster than ever, and outbreaks across the world, tuberculosis has become the second leading cause of death from an infectious disease on the planet. Jezza Neumann travels to Swaziland, the country with the world's highest incidence of TB, to deliver this unforgettable portrait of the people living at the pandemic's epicenter.

Length: 84 minutes

Item#: FPT151241

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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