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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Ruchi Brahmachari Is Helping Children Suffering From TB Through Interactive Games

  • IWB Post
  •  March 13, 2018

Ruchi Brahmachari is a clinical psychologist from Mumbai who recently spent nine months in Dushanbe, Tajikistan helping children suffering from TB.

Multidrug-resistant TB of MDR-TB is a kind of TB which is resistant to first-line drugs. Tajikistan comes among the 27 countries with a high burden of MDR-TB.

Ruchi works as a Mental Health Officer with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) which runs a pediatric TB care programme in Tajikistan. Through this programme, they provide diagnosis, treatment, and support to children suffering from TB. In a recent article for The Better India Ruchi wrote about her work in Tajikistan.

“The treatment for TB is a long and uncomfortable process and can lead to side effects such as nausea, anxiety, palpitations, headache and gastric issues.The mental health team’s responsibility is to provide nutritional and psychosocial support to keep patients motivated through the arduous course of treatment,” writes Ruchi.

The treatment for MDR-TB can take up to two years thus hampering the patient’s school life for that period. Consequently, the long break affects the cognitive abilities of the patients as they miss out on crucial years of their schooling. To ensure that the treatment doesn’t have any impact on the development of the child, MSF runs a therapeutic play programme where they help children develop through fun and interactive games.

Activities like storytelling, drawing, handicrafts or games which stimulate development are used by MSF’s mental health team to ensure that children have proper cognitive development.

Ruchi recollects, “One time, we had a group of seven kids between the ages of 1 to 3, in the in-patient unit at the same time. These were children who had begun to walk when they had first come to us but had regressed because of hospitalisation. To get them back to walking, we worked with mothers showing them how to stimulate the child. The tendency for parents is to carry their child because he is sick, so whatever opportunities there are for him to reach his development milestones get further reduced.”

Ruchi also worked actively on educational resources for children suffering from TB. Just before she left Tajikistan Ruchi’s team finished developing a board game. The board game is built on the concept of snakes and ladders where the player is required to move back or forward depending on whether he/she has been disciplined to the treatment and has followed it properly. The idea of the board game came from the intention of motivating children to adhere to the treatment instead of lecturing them to do so.

Here is the board game:

cover (2)

“These are changes I am proud to have been associated with. Their treatment would still go on without these changes, but through some of our interventions, we were able to make sure that not all of their childhood was lost to the disease. That is immensely gratifying,” concludes Ruchi.

H/T: The Better India

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