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WFP Food Helps Tajik Boy Overcome Tuberculosis

Nutritious food rations from WFP are helping Amirjoni Abdusalom, 8, recover from pulmonary tuberculosis. Soon he'll be able to go back to his family and the normal life of a young boy in his rural Tajik village.

DUSHANBE -- Before Amirjoni became seriously ill, he lived in a rural village of Tajikistan called Boghgai, some 260 kilometres south of the capital Dushanbe. When he was admitted to the National Tuberculosis Hospital for Children in Dushanbe in the spring of 2009, he was coughing continuously, he suffered from a high temperature and he had little energy.

According to the doctors, Amirjoni had a string of respiratory diseases over the preceding three years. Before coming to the Tajik capital, he had spent 18 days in a district hospital in Muminobod, not far from Boghgai. Here, X-rays were taken – and they showed the symptoms of TB.

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Pulmonary TB

That’s when Amirjoni was sent to Dushanbe. He was put under observation in the National Tuberculosis Centre, where he was diagnosed with pulmonary TB. The doctors in the Children’s Hospital believed that he contracted it from his mother, who was in contact with her five children when she herself was sick with TB. Although she successfully completed the DOTS treatment, or Directly Observed Treatment Strategy, she had already passed the disease on to her son.

Amirjoni’s family is very poor. His father works as a day laborer, earning only small amounts of cash. Even though the household finances are slender, his mother manages to visit him at the National Tuberculosis Hospital for Children once a month.

Thanks to the Global Fund, which gives WFP funding for its TB programmes, Amirjon got a four-month course of DOTS treatment followed by another two months of recovery treatment. He will be fully back to health when he is discharged late in 2009. He has already gained weight and feels in much better health.

Nutritious meals

Along with the other children at the hospital, he attends classes with visiting teachers during the school year. Thanks to WFP, Amirjoni eats four times a day in the hospital. WFP provides the basic commodities of wheat flour, vegetable oil, pulses and iodized salt, which is cooked into tasty, nutritious meals supplemented by food purchased by the government.

Now Amirjon is on the road back to a normal life in his home in Boghgai. He looks forward to returning to his family, ready to share his knowledge of how to prevent them from contracting TB.