TB major concern in Harare

HARARE - Tuberculois (TB) is a major public health concern in Harare’s high density areas due to overcrowding and poverty, Council’s acting health director, Clemence Duri, said.

He said although there was a decline in reported cases, the trend changed following the emergence of new settlements in the capital.

“TB remains a major public health challenge to the city, which reported around 4 000 cases in 2015, albeit some of them being multi-drug resistant (MDR) cases.

“It remains a problem in the high density areas — affecting the reproductively active age group of between 25 to 45 years,” Duri said at the commissioning of a new digital radiology system at Wilkins Hospital yesterday.

He said areas such as Caledonia, Hopley, Southlea Park and Ushewekunze were characterised by overcrowding, making transmission of the highly communicable disease easy.

Duri advised that the city must come up with new strategies as extra pulmonary TB is a challenge in children and HIV positive patients, making diagnosis very difficult.

He added that MDR TB is viewed as a scary condition and has a lot of stigma attached to it from both the community and health systems.

According to International Union Against TB and Lung Diseases’ Ronald Ncube, Zimbabwe is ranked among the top 30 countries in TB, HIV and MDR TB prevalence.

Health minister, David Parirenyatwa, said the poor suffered more from the impact of TB and HIV and as such, improved access to prevention and treatment of MDR TB and extreme drug resistant (XDR TB) was required.

Parirenyatwa said from the time Zimbabwe began using GeneXpert — a molecular testing device — more cases of drug resistant TB were being detected.

“MDR TB cases have been increasing annually from 118 cases in 2011 to 468 in 2015 and by the middle of this year we have identified 319 cases.

“The advantage of using this device is that it detects TB in patients who may not exhibit the usual symptoms of coughing, sweating and weight loss,” he said.

Parirenyatwa added that mines, prisons, crowded environments, poor diets and squalid living conditions provided good incubation for TB.

He said second line MDR TB medicines, if ignored, may cause permanent hearing loss in patients, which needs to be detected early and have dosages adjusted.

“We need a lot of resources to give quality health care and in spite of the politics above us when they come to the aid of the health sector we need the money from the United States.

“We want to end TB and HIV by 2030 and those resources will go a long way,” Parirenyatwa said.

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