By Michael Liswaniso
The number of deaths in the Kunene Region caused by TB stand at 14 percent, according to officials from Health and Social Services. It is reported this “high death rate” is caused by the late arrival of patients.
The situation is worsened by the fact that some of the patients refuse to be tested for HIV.
This came to light during the commemoration of World TB Day last Friday.
The day was commemorated under the theme: “I am stopping TB.”
Giving a brief insight of the TB situation in the region, Sister Asteria Evard, the chief health programme administrator for special disease programmes, said the region is facing TB challenges such as abuse of alcohol while on treatment, interruption of treatment for some days as well as that of defaulters.
“These challenges are leading to what we call multi-drug resistances, whereby the patient is no longer responding to medication. This can also lead to a very dangerous TB that is not treatable,” she stressed.
Evard noted that last year alone, Kunene registered 229 cases of TB infections. Opuwo recorded 112 cases while Khorixas and Outjo recorded 61 and 56 respectively.
Evard also said that despite all these challenges, there are control measures in place, among them the use of facility and community direct observed therapy (DOT), tracing of TB contacts and defaulters as well as the collection of sputum from TB suspects and treatment of confirmed cases.
She urged residents to join hands in the fight against TB, pointing out that Namibia is ranked number 2 on TB case notification in the world.
“The ministry together with the Global Fund have pulled resources together to fight the spread of TB within the Namibian nation. TB is easily treated and nobody needs to die from it,” said Evard.
Over a thousand people, mainly school children, attended the event.
Opuwo mayor Peter de Villiers, governor Dudu Murorua, Kunene’s chief regional officer George Kamseb and regional health director Linda Nambundunga all graced the occasion.
At the same occasion, 16 voluntary community DOTs were awarded certificates and small gifts as a token of appreciation from the ministry, for their efforts in the fight against TB in the region.
Three former TB patients who were successfully treated also delivered testimonial speeches. Local bands, Povitanda and Sunset, spiced up the occasion.