Namibia: Living With Pott's Disease

WHILE the world is battling the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, 36-year-old Joseph Haikali is fighting a rare disease that causes his joints and knees to continuously keep swelling.

Haikali, who was a panel beater at a garage in Katutura, says it all started when he woke up to what seemed to be a tiny pimple that later developed into a huge swelling.

Haikali stays alone at Okuryangava informal settlement of Windhoek where he depends on neighbours to fetch water and clean the house.

He says he finds it difficult to cook for himself or wash his own clothes as his condition has affected his mobility.

"It all started in December when I woke up with an extremely itchy lump. I thought it was one of those that came and disappeared a few days later but after two days it grew into something like a tennis ball,"he said.

Haikali said he was hopeful when he was given medication at the Katutura Intermediate Hospital as he thought it was going to disappear and he would return to work.

He added that after two weeks, his condition deteriorated as the lump grew larger.

"This still did not stop me from doing my work. Living with a swollen arm became a norm as the pain had totally disappeared until I got involved in a car accident on my way to work," Haikali added.

He described the accident as non-fatal but he had damaged his back bone and his knee.

"My condition worsened after the accident as I developed another lump on my left leg and that affected the way I walked," he said.

Haikali said he has no children and his parents are in the north and the only sibling he has in Windhoek is his younger brother who works at a construction site.

Haikali is appealing to any good Samaritan to assist him with a wheelchair or crutches as he cannot walk without assistance.

"My situation seems incurable but I still have not given up on myself yet, I am appealing for assistance with a wheel chair or even blankets to keep myself warm this winter," he said.

He, however, said his biggest problem is that he cannot stand or sit for more than 30 minutes as this causes him excruciating pain in his lower back.

According to the former minister of health and social services, Bernard Haufiku, Pott's disease means bone infection by tuberculosis which normally infects joints,bones or bones of the spine.

Haufiku said Pott's disease causes deformity of the spine and can affect any part of the body.

He added that tuberculosis is still very prevalent in our community as much as we are dealing with pandemics such as Covid-19, and it remains one of the biggest causes of death in the world.

He added that tuberculosis can affect any part of the body including the liver, bone, skin and even testicles.

Haufiku said it is normally difficult to diagnose someone suffering from an extra pulmonary tuberculosis because patients often show no symptoms of the disease.

He added that the only way the condition can be detected at an early stage is when the lungs are infected but when it is in other parts of the body it becomes difficult to diagnose, especially at primary healthcare level.

"The diagnosis of Pott's disease is best when it is suspected at an early stage," he said.

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