On January 25, Global Post reporter John Donnelly highlighted the work on PIH's sister project Socios En Salud in "A determined TB nurse, and the impact on a young mother". In it, he follows a nurse as she finds and treats a woman living with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in the shantytowns of northern Lima.

The young mother wanted to die.

young woman living with mdr-tb in peru

Melissa Vargas, 23, a mother of two, came down with multi-drug resistant TB last year. Soon after beginning treatment, she lost her will to live. But thanks to continuing treatment and the actions of a nurse, Ruth Espinoza, she has regained her health and now is thinking of going back to school. (Riccardo Venturi/Courtesy).

She had multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB. The TB drugs made her sick and depressed in a way she had never experienced. She couldn’t sleep. She had no energy. 

And she was just a few months into two years of taking this awful medication every day.

Ruth Espinoza, a nurse, had other thoughts. She weighed the situation carefully. She believed that the deep depression felt by the mother, Melissa Vargas, 23, was partially a byproduct of the TB medicine. She made an appointment for Vargas to see a psychiatrist.

The next morning, the nurse appeared at the young mother’s house. She said she was there to take her to a psychiatrist. The mother refused. The nurse demanded it. The mother went.

Today, the mother wants to live.

Read "A determined TB nurse, and the impact on a young mother" in its entirety.