TB Cases On Decrease

Tuberculosis remains a challenge for Namibia – ranked fourth worldwide – but the decrease of TB in recent years shows the epidemic can be managed.

Officials from the Ministry of Health and Social Services ascribe the reason for TB occurrences in the country to the HIV epidemic and other risk factors such as poverty, smoking, under-nutrition and diabetes millitus.

“The HIV epidemic is one of the contributing factors because the patient’s immune system is weakened by the virus. You may be aware that someone may be infected with TB today but that person only develops it after 40 years or so, and this makes it very difficult to control. We also have to take note of the multi-factorial nature because one needs a broader approach to tackle this,” stated the health ministry’s Chief Medical Officer for the National TB and Leprosy Programme, Farai Mavhunga.

Although the ministry has managed to control malaria over the years, Mavhunga says TB requires a different approach from other diseases such as HIVAIDS and malaria.

The ministry says the TB burden remains a challenge in the country, however, there has been a noticeable decline in the number of TB cases since 2006. Figures indicate that case numbers dropped from 765 in 2006 to 487 in 2013 for all forms of tuberculosis, according to statistics provided by the ministry’s special programmes directorate at a media briefing on Tuesday.

As for the drug-resistant TB, there was an increase from 116 cases in 2007 to 236 in 2013. Statistics indicate the treatment success rate has increased from 83 percent in 2012 to 85 percent in 2013.

The ministry says it costs about N$1 000 to treat one patient suffering from TB in its usual form, while an estimated N$50 000 is required to treat one patient with drug-resistant TB.

The majority of TB cases are reported in the Khomas, Erongo, Ohangwena and Kavango regions.

In 2013, the HIVTB rate stood at 45 percent compared to 47 percent in 2012.

Source : New Era