Guzal is a Tuberculosis specialist who works at a children’s TB hospital in the capital city of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. TB treatment typically lasts six months or longer and Guzal gets to know her patients very well during that time. “I consider myself both a doctor and a teacher,” she said.

With the stigma attached to TB and the long treatment course requiring patients to come into medical facilities on a regular basis to have their medication intake monitored, part of Guzal’s job is keeping the spirits of her young patients positive.

But sometimes, it’s Guzal’s patients who provide the doctor with inspiration.

Guzal remembers a particular patient, 15-year-old Dilya. “When she came for treatment, the young girl was very emotional,” Guzal said. “She always cried and asked, will I be cured?”

To help Dilya focus on an optimistic future without TB, Guzal suggested the young girl participate in a TB education/awareness event for World TB Day, sponsored by Project HOPE and the national TB program. The program, offered kids with TB the opportunity to express their sentiments on the disease using art, poetry and song. The theme of the event was “Children for the World Without TB.”

Dilya agreed to participate. “She wrote a story about herself, her dreams,” Guzal said.

Dilya’s poem revealed her desire to become a doctor one day. “Because of her own experience, she wanted to be able in to treat children with TB,” Guzal said.

Here are the words from Dilya’s story:

Sog’lom khayot sari
The Way to a Healthy Life

“… I’ll try not to think about my disease. I never wish this disease on anybody, even to my enemy…especially to young people like me. I always dream to be a doctor. And my disease only increased my interest to this profession. I’ll certainly be a doctor. And now I want to treat children with TB... I believe that it will be truth…. ”

With regular treatment, Dilya was cured of TB disease and true to her aspirations, Dilya is now enrolled in a medical college. “After graduating she is going to enter Tashkent Medical Academy,” Guzal said. “Her words to me were: ‘I will be a children’s TB specialist. And I will treat children with TB…TB is curable!'"

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