THE Ministry of Health has embarked on a national tuberculosis (TB) prevalence survey whose outcome will allow it to draw new strategic plans to fight the disease in the country.
The ministry has partnered with the Global Fund and World Bank who have funded the project to the tune of an estimated US$ 4 million.
The ministry’s National TB Manager, Llang Maama, recently told the Sunday Express that the country has relied only on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global TB Report which is based on estimates. She said the estimates are taken from the number of patients seen by health service providers or put on treatment hence they decided to hold a national survey to record the actual number of people with TB country wide.
Dr Maama said according to the 2018 WHO Global TB Report, Lesotho is first with 655 TB cases for every 100 000 people followed by South Africa in second.
Dr Maama said the survey which started on 18 February and will run until August 2019, targets 26 000 people countrywide. The number is expected to be reached in 54 clusters which she said would help the ministry have direct access and observation to the patients. She said those found to be infected will be immediately initiated into treatment.
“Given the current WHO estimates, the survey is timely as it will help us to address the challenge (of lack of accurate information) and also help us find patients and put them on treatment,” Dr Maama said.
“Families who will be found to be prone to TB infections will be provided with the Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT) so that they are protected
“This way, we will be in a position to make a positive impact on the burden of TB in Lesotho which might decrease our prevalence rate.”
Dr Maama said they embarked onto the programme after realising that there are some people in the villages who never go to health facilities for treatment and end up dying of TB without ever being diagnosed.
She said 14 percent of deaths in Lesotho are TB related a figure which she said was an unacceptable.
“We know that TB is preventable and curable yet people continue to be infected while some die so we need to address such challenges through this survey so that we can come up with informed strategies knowing the exact root causes of the TB burden in the country,” Dr Maama said.