One of the few victors against Tuberculosis, Mr Thabang Ramotsisi, has formed a group called “I am Team TB” to fight the disease.
The youthful Gabane resident, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2013, has decided to use entertainment and education as a mechanism in assisting the country to reach zero TB deaths, infections, and stigmatisation by forming an anti-TB group.
The 22-year-old formed the group after a successful battle to survive the deadly bacterial infection. He also won the TB contest which was organised by the Ministry of Health thus crowning him the TB ambassador.
“The group started in October last year, but this year we have been more active,” said Mr Ramotsisi in an interview.
He said their aim was to discourage the stigma that was always associated with TB patients, adding that both his father and mother passed away in 2010 and 2011 respectively due to TB.
Mr Ramotsisi said he was diagnosed with the disease in 2013 a year after completing secondary education at Gaborone Senior Secondary school.
“In 2013 I was booked for an operation after I had a lung infection. It was during the operation that it was discovered that I also have TB,” explained Mr Ramotsisi.
After his youthful life hit rock bottom and faced with a traumatic experience he started his medication in Serowe. While undergoing treatment he moved to Gabane, only to be discovered that he had multi drug resistant TB (MDR) meaning that the medication was not working.
“I was moved to quarantine for six months, however, only four months at the quarantine, I was declared TB free,” added Mr Ramotsisi.
He said his healing and the death of his parents due to the disease inspired him to start the entertainment and educational TB group to inform people and spread the message to help combat stigma and infections.
“Some people were scared to get medication or disclose their TB status because of stigma. Patients end up not taking the medication or going for check-ups because of the fear of being stigmatised,” he said.
Although he said some people look down upon his group because of his background, he remains adamant in what he believes in.
“I sometimes go door to door in Gabane to educate people and give them pamphlets and stickers about TB,” he said.
He said he in future he wants to become a TB educator and I has set up an appointment with the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health for a possible TB educator course.
I am Team TB comprises of him and nine other members and they perform songs and drama during public events to educate the public.
They also have a song titled I Am Team TB. Mr Ramotsisi explained that they work closely with TB coordinators from Princess Marina Hospital in their endeavour to kick TB out of Botswana.