In Tajikistan, in an attempt to break up the everyday routine for children undergoing tuberculosis (TB) treatment, Médecins Sans Frontières psychosocial team organises celebration parties as part of the organisation’s pediatric therapeutic play programme. Patients, who are being treated at home, in community centers, and in hospitals, are invited to participate in the events every two months, featuring activities at the Machiton Pediatric Hospital including dancing, singing, cartoon character performances and a group therapy session. Almost 40 patients and their carers attended the two most recent events in September with the next event scheduled for November.
The objective of the parties, held every two months, is to help ease some of the anxieties for children who are hospitalized for TB treatment, as they face prolonged hospitalization and lengthy treatment regimens. The celebration parties offer a break and an opportunity for emotional support. The event agenda includes a support group session which allows patients to share their stories and experiences while also fostering friendships with other children who are undergoing similar treatment. An adherence support worker guides the discussion, focusing on sharing coping methods to help manage side effects of the medication, the difficulties of dealing with an often long treatment regimen and the importance of enjoying regular activities while undergoing treatment.
Adherence support workers from Médecins Sans Frontières, and the ministry of health, prepare the parties weeks in advance. They handle all details including invitations, the ordering of supplies, as well as organizing performances from entertainers. Furthermore, children who had birthdays in the past two months are celebrated and given practical gifts including toiletries, while all the patients who attend are given a gift bag.