Nigeria

In the last ten to fifteen years, the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic in Nigeria has been amplified by the existence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and complicated by multiple drug resistant strains of TB, a condition referred to as multiple drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Knowing little about the treatment process in Nigeria, Dr. Jim Tryon and his daughter, Elyce Tryon traveled to Africa in July 2007 to learn and observe by spending two weeks at Faith Alive Hospital in Jos, Nigeria. They worked closely with founder Dr. Christian Isichei, who began Faith Alive Foundation ten years ago after studying at the University of New Mexico and becoming inspired by the quality of healthcare New Mexico had to offer.

A gem in the middle of poverty-stricken Nigeria, Faith Alive Hospital has grown from one room to a network of 37 departments, offering free healthcare, counseling and support for people with or affected by HIV/AIDS. As the only free hospital in Jos, Faith Alive is teeming with people from 8am until late at night. Although Faith Alive tries to provide all the patients with the treatments they need, the social and political situation of the country and lack of national and international support make this a daunting task. There are simply too many patients and too few resources.

As a result of our site visit St. Anthony’s Alliance committed $10,000 in 2008 to Dr. Isichei. As I write he sent us an email stating that he will use the money to begin building a diagnostic lab for TB. Incredibly none exists in Nigeria. Making the diagnosis is essential to determining the proper treatment and preventing the development of MDR-TB

SAA gave another $15,000 in 2009 to help buy an x-ray machine to screen patients and healthcare workers for TB ($5000 of this money was a grant from St. Norbert Abbey to help fund this cause).   In March 2009, after receiving the x-ray machine, Faith Alive was able to convert the second floor to be used entirely for diagnosis and treatment of TB.

Dr. Isichei and Faith Alive designated the room containing the x-ray equipment as “The St. Anthony’s Alliance Room.” Currently patients and healthcare workers get a baseline chest x-ray when they come in. It takes 3 days to hear the results from the radiologist; before patients were sent to the University of Jos for x-rays, and obtaining results often took longer than a week.