Angolan TB Patients Flock to Namibia

Hundreds of tuberculosis patients being treated at health centres and clinics in the Ohangwena Region are from Angola.

This came to light during a recent 2014 World TB Day event that was held in Oshikango in the Ohangwena Region that borders Angola. Although there has been a significant decrease in TB related cases worldwide, the number of TB patients at Helao Nafidi located on the Namibia-Angolan border appear to be on the increase. The Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi said in 2012 and 2013 alone, a third of all TB patients treated in the Engela District Hospital were from Angola. This brings the number of TB patients from Angola, who received treatment in the Engela health district in just two years to 521.

The number of Angolan patients diagnosed with Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) at Engela District Hospital has also increased significantly from a mere 9 to 18 cases between 2012 and 2013. This brings the total number of MDR-TB patients to 36 in 2013, compared to 33 MDR-TB patients that were treated with the same condition in 2012. Currently, the Engela District Hospital is treating two patients who are both from Angola with Extensively Drug-Resistant TB (XDR-TB), which according to Kamwi is a serious health hazard, because MDR-TB and XDR-TB patients are hospitalized with the other TB patients.

In 2012 and 2013 at least 63 of the 81 patients who defaulted treatment were Angolan nationals, which according to the health minister, negatively impacts the achievement of national and international targets. “This exerts significant financial and infrastructural pressure on the region and the district, because the hospital does not have infrastructure to isolate these patients,” said Kamwi. Kamwi charged that although a bilateral agreement between Namibia and Angola has been signed to facilitate the management of communicable diseases between the two countries, the health ministry is still challenged to maintain and ensure that patients are successfully treated, because there are patients who default treatment.

Also speaking at the event was Angolan national Mirjam David, who was successfully treated and cured from TB in Namibia. David who underwent treatment for seven months was grateful to Namibia for not excluding them from the TB treatment, because of their nationality and urged patients who are diagnosed with TB to take their medication seriously, since TB can be cured. Kamwi further urged patients travelling between the two countries to ensure they provide correct details to health centres and clinics in order for nurses to trace their medical records and to support them while on treatment. Kamwi was making exclusive reference to TB patients, saying TB transparency treatment can ensure that resistance is curtailed if treatment is taken continuously.

Source : New Era