This post is adapted from a blog that originally appeared on the Global Fund’s website.
Four out of every ten tuberculosis (TB) cases worldwide weren’t detected in 2016. That’s a really big deal because that meant 4.1 million people didn’t know they were infected with the number one infectious disease killer in the world.
Around World TB Day, we asked: Who are the heroes working on the front lines, finding those missing cases of TB?
Enter Rashidi Gora.
Another foot soldier in Tanzania’s effort to reach people left behind in the fight against TB is Rashidi Gora, a community health worker tracking missing cases of TB in Dodoma, central Tanzania.
For Gora, finding the next TB patient is a life mission. On a recent morning, Gora bid his wife goodbye, grabbed his bag and hopped on his motorbike, heading to the remotest villages of Kondoa District in the country’s interior, where rugged roads disappear into endless fields of millet and corn.
In the last year, Gora has screened hundreds of people for TB in areas far removed from mainstream health systems. It is not a glamorous job. Gora collects samples, smears the sputum on a slide for ease of transportation and delivers them to hospital labs for analysis.
When the results are ready, he rides back to the distant villages – often for more than an hour – to read out the outcomes to his patients. In case of a positive result, he links patients to clinics and supports them through the long treatment process. In a calm voice, he also takes time to educate the people on how to avoid infection, or infecting others.
“When I got the training, I fell in love with community health work, and I dedicated myself to saving my community from this disaster,” says Gora. “The Global Fund and MDH gave me the training, now is my turn to contribute.”
MDH (Management and Development for Health) is a local nongovernmental organization that is part of a national effort to find TB cases led by Global Fund and the nonprofit Save the Children. MDH has trained and deployed more than 2,000 community health workers across Tanzania to bring TB screening and treatment to the people.
In order to find more than 100,000 missing cases of TB spread across Tanzania – a vast country almost the size of Germany and France combined – the government is working with the Global Fund to train staff in health facilities to test for TB among all patients, and connecting community health workers like Gora and traditional healers like Milanzi with formal health systems.
The partnership is investing in prompt and accurate diagnosis of TB in health facilities with the goal of identifying all TB cases that arrive at the hospital. The partnership has made TB screening routine during all medical visits, which has more than doubled the number of TB cases detected in the last year.
Rashidi Gora’s story tells us how aid saves lives. When you tell governments to fund the Global Fund, it supports the heroic work of people like Rashidi Gora on his motorcycle, bringing us closer to eliminating one of the world’s deadliest diseases.