TB can not be fought alone: Health PS

22 Mar 2017 16:50pm
WINDHOEK, 22 MAR (NAMPA) – Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Andreas Mwoombola has encouraged Namibians to look after their bodies and develop a healthy resistance to fight viruses and diseases.
He said this Wednesday at a media briefing on the ‘Challenge TB’ project funded by the United States of America through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at the Okuryangava Clinic.
Mwoombola said too often people wait until the last minute when their body’s immune system is exhausted before seeking medical attention.
“Communicate with your body and the moment you feel some unusual symptoms go to hospital. Prevention is better than cure.”
The Tuberculosis (TB) project was initiated in 2015, with the goal to end TB and to bring HIV under control in Namibia.
Mwoombola said communities should unite against the disease, as patients alone cannot fight TB because it is contagious through bodily fluids.
TB is caused by bacteria and usually attacks the lungs but can also affect the spine, brain and bones. It is transmitted through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The TB project is being implemented at the Okuryangava Clinic, which has the second largest number of TB/HIV patients after the Katutura Health Centre.
The US government provided the clinic with a fabricated treatment room for TB patients, known as the DOT-point, which provides services including HIV counselling and testing, and linkage to antiretroviral therapy (ART) services through sited referrals for TB/HIV positive clients, which reduces waiting periods and improves infection control.
About 1 000 patients in the Windhoek District have benefited from the project, while more than 3 500 people have benefited countrywide.
US Ambassador to Namibia, Thomas Daughton said it is difficult to provide comprehensive TB and HIV services in Namibia, as four out of every 10 HIV positive people have TB.
“Treating someone who has contracted both HIV and TB is far more difficult as both diseases in the same patient can become too strong for the patient to fight.”
He said Namibia has one of the highest HIV and TB co-infection rates in the world, even though current data shows a downward trend in TB cases and an upward trend in the TB-treatment success rate.
USAID has thus far invested about N.dollars 48 million in the Challenge TB project and is aiming for a 90 per cent target in Namibia, which Daughton said is achievable.
“If you doubt that, you should know that in most districts, the levels of HIV testing and anti-retroviral treatment initiation in TB patients co-infected with HIV have already exceeded 80 per cent.”