Windhoek-At least 350 patients have accessed tuberculosis (TB) treatment and referral services for HIV care at the TB DOT (Directly Observed Treatment) centre in Okuryangava since 2015.
“The Okuryangava clinic is a crucial health site in our combined effort alongside the Namibian government to fight TB and HIV,” said US Ambassador Thomas Daughton. The US government through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is supporting the ‘Challenge TB project’.
“In the whole Windhoek district the Challenge TB project has supported access to comprehensive tuberculosis and HIV services for more than 1000 people,” Daughton said.
He added: “Every one of those lives is precious, and providing comprehensive care to those who didn’t have care before helps ensure these people can continue to enjoy full and productive lives.”
He said that current data indicates that there is a downward trend in TB cases.
“That is, of course, good news. But it is critical to continue to provide comprehensive tuberculosis and HIV services in Namibia. Effectively treating TB is possible and so is effectively treating HIV.”
“But treating someone who has contracted both HIV and tuberculosis is far more difficult as both diseases in the same patient can become too strong for the patient to fight,” said Daughton. He stressed the importance of providing comprehensive TB and HIV services.
“For reasons we don’t yet understand, Namibia has one of the highest HIV-TB co-infection rates in the world. That means that on average about four out of 10 patients with TB are also HIV positive.”
This rate has been dropping thanks to heightened awareness of TB and provision of comprehensive TB and HIV services in Namibia, he added.
The US government, through PEPFAR, has established strong collaborative relationships in the health sector over the years.
“One area that we have long recognised as key to the health of Namibians is tuberculosis. That’s why USAID has been a strong supporter of the Challenge TB project,” he said, indicating that to date N$48 million has been invested in the project.