Dedicated playroom offers hospitalized children a chance for accelerated healing and improved well being

Tajikistan, February 13, 2018
By: Nigara Abate

TB Playroom provides comfort for youngest patients.

If you meet Nigora Karimova* today, you may find it hard to believe that this adorable 8-year-old with beautiful eyes and a cute ponytail is a tuberculosis (TB) patient. Little Nigora has been hospitalized at Tajikistan’s National Center of Lung Diseases, Tuberculosis and Thoracic Surgery in Machiton near the country’s capital since the summer 2017 and after many long months of treatment, finally, the doctors are hopeful that this youngster can be discharged with a clean bill of health in the next couple of months.

Every year, in Tajikistan, a country where the burden of TB is very high, as many as 600 children become ill with this infectious but curable disease. To receive treatment, the majority of these children have to be hospitalized and, as a result, separated from their families for months at a time. For these little patients, a hospital stay is a very long, lonely, and scary experience.   

TB Playroom provides comfort for youngest patients.

For Nigora, separation from her parents and her 2-year-old brother has been particularly difficult. Her family lives in Tajikistan’s remote and mountainous region of Rasht Valley. The only road connecting the area where her family lives with the capital city and the TB Center can become treacherous or even impassible in winter months when frequent snowfalls can completely cut it off from the rest of the region. Even in good weather, taxis and private cars -- the only available mode of transport – can take up to six hours and a large chunk of the family’s monthly income for travel to the hospital. As a result, Nigora’s mother and father can visit their little girl at the hospital only infrequently. 

Many of the remaining 16 children at the hospital face a similar situation. Due to lengthy and expensive travel to the hospital, their parents are precluded from seeing their little ones often. For this reason, the opening at the TB Center of a playroom – a dedicated space where hospitalized children can engage in playtime or guided activities will make the lives of the little TB patients a little bit brighter and will contribute to their accelerated healing and improved wellbeing. The playroom – a warm and cheerful space equipped with toys, games, and furniture for children of all ages was provided to help children with TB thanks to a generous gift made by Project HOPE supporters through individual monetary contributions.  Now Nigora and other little patients at the TB Center have a fun play space where they can forget for a little while about their illness, loneliness, and separation from family. 

Project HOPE has worked in Tajikistan since 1996, providing humanitarian and technical assistance for over 20 years during a difficult period for the country through delivery of crucial medications and medical supplies valued at over $300 million. In 2001, Project HOPE became the first partner organization supporting the efforts of the Republic of Tajikistan Ministry of Health in implementation of interventions to halt the spread of TB. For nearly two decades, Project HOPE, in partnership with Tajikistan’s National TB Control Program; USAID; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; civil society organizations; local government authorities; and communities has been implementing targeted and effective TB control interventions to improve access to quality TB detection treatment, and care for all. These efforts have brought cure and support to 17,000 patients representing over 80% of all TB cases registered during this time period in Tajikistan.

*Name has been changed to protect identity.

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