Samuel Phiri or “Sam” is also from Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. He is a police officer for the National Assembly of the Zambian Parliament where he has worked for the past five years. He represents RHD patients on the Reach Community Advisory Network. As a young child, Sam was sickly and small. His journey took his parents along the all-to-familiar path of missed diagnoses and treatments that didn’t help until he got specialist care many years later at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka.
Sam’s story from sickness to health can be found here in a video recorded at the Uganda RHD “Listen to My Heart” patient event and Stakeholders’ Meeting in 2017. He recounts the burden that RHD created for his family where his hospitalisations and medical care took most of their resources; his education was disrupted and worst of all, he felt a stigma from his community members who didn’t understand what living with RHD is all about. As a result, Sam was reluctant to go outside to play with other children. He even felt some of his family members avoided him – thinking they would catch the disease from him.
Sam met other RHD patients for the first time at the University Teaching Hospital where he was thrilled, excited and relieved to meet others who shared his experiences. Sam eventually had valve replacement surgery in South Africa and now he is a vibrant, healthy and productive man who is passionate to see RHD eliminated from his country. He has experienced the inconvenience, cost and discomfort of monthly penicillin injections. He also has first-hand knowledge of managing the anticoagulation therapy required after valve surgery in a resource-constrained setting.
Sam was chosen to serve on our CAN because of his experience, knowledge and empathy for PLWRHD, where he can represent their interests in providing experience-based feedback on the work of Reach.
“I am passionate to eradicate RHD in my country, Zambia, and the world... Sensitization of the community in order to raise awareness on how to prevent RHD is important to me.”