3.1.4 Companionship support

On-site social support for patients, their families and friends through peer counselling can improve the effectiveness of TB programmes. TB programmes can develop support activities that identify patients who have been cured (“community champion” or “ex-patient”) and provide them with training to be a peer supporter. This worker engages in support, treatment literacy and communication with other patients under treatment. These community champions or ex-patients should follow each patient from diagnosis through to cure, and they should act as both friend and educator. From the patient’s perspective, having this companion available reduces the psychological burden of the long duration of treatment and provides them with skills to cope with TB stigma and discrimination.

Peer support groups, community champions or ex-patients and trained health workers can offer information-sharing sessions to educate patients, help with better detection of risk factors for default (e.g. understanding adverse effects of medication) and identify other warning signs that can affect treatment outcome.

Companionship support provides the basis for developing a social network within the care facility, which can play an essential role in improving rates of treatment completion. Working together, a health worker, a peer supporter and the patient can build a spirit of collaboration and innovation aimed at reducing stigma and can reaffirm that TB can be successfully treated within an environment of mutual respect among all involved.

Book navigation