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TB campaign to curb soaring infection rates


Limpho Sello

THE Ministry of Health is set to launch a campaign to curb the soaring rates of Tuberculosis (TB) infections which have made Lesotho second only to Swaziland in the world.

Speaking during World Tuberculosis Day commemorations held on Tuesday, the Ministry of Health’s National TB Programme Manager, Llang Maama, said the disease’s prevalence rates and deaths continued to soar in Lesotho.

She said the prevalence had leaped from 630 people over a 100 000 population to 916 over 100 000 despite initiatives and support from the international health organisations to stem the tide.

“HIV co-infection among TB patients in Lesotho is 74 percent, compared with the global burden of 70 percent,” Dr Maama said.

“At a global level, 5.5 million people living with HIV were screened for TB and only 0.6 million were enrolled on Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT). This means that global and national efforts have to be beefed up to improve the current performance.”

She said the ministry’s initiative dubbed, National Community Dialogue, is meant to encourage the participation of community members in the detection and support of TB patients.

“It is envisaged that community structures can improve the current state of affairs and help bridge the current performance gap of 50 percent case detection, as per the 2014 World Health Organisation (WHO) TB report,” Dr Maama said.

She added that it was critical for the ministry to develop guidelines on how to engage and strengthen involvement of civil society organisations and strengthen community participation at all levels of implementation.

Dr Maama said some of strategies to be implemented by the ministry in the initiative would include door-to-door TB and HIV campaigns, improving accessibility and availability to services and curbing TB infections and transmissions.

“There is a decline in TB notifications, hence the need for Lesotho to conduct TB a prevalence survey and answer the global call to detect TB cases, treat and cure it,” she said.

The ministry, she said, would also strive towards a 100 percent access of antiretroviral drugs among HIV co-infected TB patients “as opposed to the current 70 percent”.

Held on 24 March every year, World TB Day commemorations are meant to build public awareness about the epidemic and highlight efforts towards eliminating the disease. The 24th of March is also the date, in 1882, when German physicist Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB), marking a turning point in diagnosing and curing the disease.


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