Nam has fourth highest TB burden in the world: Nitschke

WINDHOEK: Namibia has the fourth highest per capita tuberculosis (TB) burden in the world with an estimated 655 incidences, Deputy Director of Special Programmes in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Anne-Marie Nitschke says.

Speaking at a media briefing in Windhoek on Monday, Nitschke said Namibia is one of the 10 countries with the highest incidences of TB after Swaziland, South Africa and Sierra Leone.

“The TB burden in the country remains challenging. However, there has been a noticeable decline in case numbers since 2006,” she stated.

She noted that the treatment success rate in Namibia has increased to 85 per cent in 2013 compared to 83 per cent in 2012.

Nitschke said the burden of TB in the country has been strongly influenced by the HIV epidemic, poverty, smoking, under-nutrition, overcrowding and diabetes mellitus.

The Khomas Region has recorded the highest number of cases at more than 1 000, followed by the Erongo Region, and Ohangwena Region. The least TB cases were recorded in the Zambezi Region.

Nitschke said drug resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is a form of TB diagnosed in Namibia. The estimated cost of treating one patient with the usual form of TB is less than N.dollars 1 000, while the cost of treating a patient with DR-TB averages more than N.dollars 50 000.

She said a total number of 275 DR-TB cases were recorded in 2013 compared to 251 cases recorded in the previous year.