01 Apr 2014 13:40pm
OSHIKANGO, 01 APR (NAMPA) - Health and Social Services Minister Dr Richard Kamwi says the number of people diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) in Namibia has continued to decline over the past few years.
Kamwi said this at the town of Helao Nafidi in the Ohangwena Region, during the belated commemoration of World TB Day on Monday.
World TB Day is commemorated on 24 March every year. The 2013 statistics, Kamwi said, indicated that 10 568 patients were diagnosed with TB, a five per cent decline from the 11 145 patients diagnosed with TB in 2012.
This declining trend has been observed since 2004, and suggests that our efforts are having a positive impact on the epidemic, he told his audience, which included Queen Martha Mwadinomho waKristian yaNelumbu of Oukwanyama and Ohangwena Governor Usko Nghaamwa.
Kamwi went on to say his ministry has also made significant progress in its efforts to detect patients with TB that is resistant to the usual medicines used to treat the disease, or drug-resistant TB.
He pointed out that the ministry has expanded the implementation of new tests for diagnosing drug-resistant TB, which has resulted in a total of 263 patients diagnosed with forms of TB requiring treatment for multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) last year.
According to Kamwi, the World TB Day serves to remind people that the disease is a major public health challenge.
World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Namibia, Dr Monir Islam in a statement presented on his behalf by WHO disease prevention and control officer, Dr Desta Tiruneh stated that the 2013 WHO Global TB Control Report estimated that 1,3 million people die from TB per year.
The majority of cases had been reported in South-East Asia (29 per cent), Africa (27 per cent) and Western Pacific (19 per cent), Islam pointed out.
Kamwi also officially launched the TB Infection Control Guidelines and National TB and Leprosy Programme during the World TB Day commemoration.