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TB survivor to cycle 60km to raise awareness of the disease in children

TB survivor to cycle 60km to raise awareness of the disease in children

Karin Husselmann a nurse and Tuberculosis (TB) survivor will embark on a 60 km cycle from Oshikango to Eenhana on 25 March, to create public awareness about the devastating effects of the disease in children.

Husselmann said this will be her maiden ride and she has themed it #Pedal4PeadsTB, and has decided to use her voice and gear her advocacy efforts in the area of childhood TB.

“PeadsTB is short for paediatric TB, which also refers to childhood TB, and the reason I am using cycling to convey this message is because it may be more impactful to use as a mode of information sharing, because children are generally quite connected to cycling,” said Husselmann.

The intervention is perfectly timed to coincide with World Tuberculosis Day which is commemorated on 24 March and the theme this year is ‘Time is ticking’ and in Namibian the day will be commemorated at the Oshikango Open Market on 26 March.

Husselmann said she hopes to make people think differently regarding TB in children, both at community and household as well as health care worker level.

“There has been a lot of neglect locally and globally in finding, diagnosing and treating children with TB and now is the time for this neglect to be rectified,” she said.

As a TB survivor, Husselmann described her journey as one marked with emotional turmoil and fuelled by stigma, rejection and discrimination.

“Experiencing the negative attitude of my community towards me caused emotional wounds and filled me with grave concern about the effects of ignorance and the apparent lack of knowledge and empathy for people with TB,” she added.

She said it was only her strong faith and the support of her family and close friends that pulled her through, combined with the right medicines, therefore she is determined to help people who have been diagnosed with TB not to experience similar stigma and rejection.

Her her long term vision is to champion awareness of TB in children in Namibia at community level and this ride is the beginning of many such events.

“I envision annual rides in different communities across the country, and also hope to attract the support of the Ministry of Health and Social Services, as well as like minded private businesses and individuals,” she said.

She further stated that apart from being diagnosed and treated timely and correctly, every child in Namibia also deserves to be thoroughly protected from TB, and to receive TB preventive therapy where needed.

“I also envisage working with the MoHSS and relevant academic institutions in ensuring quality and accurate curriculum content regarding TB and other infectious diseases through initiating a Community Health Sciences curriculum development committee,” she added.

Husselmann would also like to work with the MoHSS and other line-ministries in ensuring proper and routine screening for TB of health care workers and staff members, while it takes time to put the above in place, she believes now is a perfect time to start. But for now Husselmann said she is ready for her maiden ride and hopeful that this even will bring about much needed awareness to challenge of TB particularly in children, hence the hashtag #Pedal4PeadsTB.

“With every pedal I literally think and pray for children who suffer from TB, and trust that as the action of pedalling propels me forward on the bicycle, so will the information sharing through the cycling equip communities, in particular parents, caretakers and health care workers, to move us forward with a new vision on how to treat children with TB in the future,” concluded Husselmann.


About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and she believes education is the greatest equalizer. She received her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in June 2021. . She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.