URC is proud to be a part of the International Council of Nurses global series, Caring with Courage: Extraordinary Stories of Nurses, produced by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions, and launched on May 12, the International Day of the Nurse. The series portrays the indispensable work of nurses around the world delivering care and strengthening health systems.
As part of the www.caringwithcourage.com series, URC’s film A Nurse’s Calling, launches today, highlighting our tuberculosis (TB) work in Uganda. The film provides a glimpse into the daily work of Nassali Rose Mugerwa, Nursing Officer-in-Charge at a TB diagnostic and treatment center in Mukono District, Uganda. We are witness to her tireless commitment to eradicate TB in her community.
Worldwide, TB is the second leading infectious killer after COVID-19. Multidrug-resistant TB remains a public health crisis and a health security threat. While treatable and curable, treatment for TB is lengthy – six months, and at least nine months for drug resistant TB – making treatment adherence a challenge in low resource settings.
Nurse Rose received training and support from the USAID Defeat TB Activity (Defeat TB), which works closely with the Uganda Ministry of Health’s National TB Leprosy Programme and supports the health center where Rose works to increase TB case detection and treatment success.
Without nurses like Rose, URC’s work – and success in localizing programs for sustainable impact and change – would not be possible. Dedicated frontline health workers, including nurses, are the cornerstone of the health workforce, and often, the primary point of contact between the patient and the health system. And they are crucial to the development and sustainability of quality health systems.
Ensuring Community TB Treatment Adherence
In the film, we shadow Rose as she cares for TB patients. She says:
“Nobody told me or inspired me to become a nurse. I felt the love inside of my heart and the need to help and save people’s lives and I have achieved it.”
Rose nurtures a strong relationship with the community to support the continuum of TB activities, including prevention, screening, diagnosis, care, and treatment. To follow up with patients who have not returned to the health center, she packs a cooler with TB medications and embarks on a journey – by motorcycle – to deliver it directly to a patient unable to visit the health center.
These components of nursing and community health work – outreach and behavior change communication – are essential to successful health care and in this case, to treatment adherence and TB care. Such work represents the final mile to move us closer to TB elimination.
“TB is treatable,” says Dr. Abel Nkolo, Chief of Party for Defeat TB, highlighting the myriad factors contributing to the disease, most of which are socioeconomic.
Yes, TB is treatable, but only if cases are detected, diagnosed, and effectively and completely treated. Nurses like Rose are instrumental in delivering treatment, ensuring its completion, and supporting improved health system performance to effectively implement TB programs.
Quality of Care and Commitment
Beyond the patient and community, nurses play a crucial role in health system and workforce strengthening to improve TB program performance and quality of care. In the film, we see Nurse Rose training others, imparting her knowledge, and transferring skills.
By supporting health workers like Nurse Rose, Defeat TB is helping move Uganda closer to ending the TB epidemic. The commitment of nurses in delivering critical care drives the success of disease prevention, treatment, care, and now also – elimination – programs. In Nurse Rose’s words, “Yes, I work hard, but there is no time to lose in the fight against TB.”
And she has been successful in the fight. The district TB detection rate of Mukono where Nurse Rose works increased from 58% to 100% during the first four years of the Defeat TB Activity. She is an inspiration to her patients, colleagues, and now, to the world.