A tuberculosis (TB) survivor last week dismissed myths that the disease only affects black and poor people.
Karin Husselman, a Caucasian woman, told a crowd at the commemoration of World TB Day, held in Katutura, about her TB diagnosis, stressing that the disease can “affect anyone irrespective of colour and social status”.
“I stand before you today as an individual, a mother, pastor’s wife, nurse but also as a former TB patient’,” she said, narrating her battle with TB.
Not suspecting that she might have TB, Husselman ignored the symptoms she experienced without linking it to a potentially life-threatening disease.
Husselman was diagnosed while on holiday with her family in Cape Town and had to be isolated and unable to return home for a couple of weeks. Husselman also emphasised the importance of treatment adherence and completion of treatment. She called on health workers to take extra care on early detection of TB in patients.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, also spoke at the event and highlighted the main symptoms of TB and the importance of early detection and treatment.
Haufiku urged the community to take personal hygiene seriously in order to prevent TB.
“We know what causes TB, we know how to prevent TB, we know what treatment to provide, but why is it that we continue to be overwhelmed by TB? Leadership is not political only. It can be at a pre-school, in your community, in your workplace or even in prison. We need to take personal responsibility and leadership to end TB,” Haufiku said. He spoke to the theme of this year’s commemoration: ‘Wanted: Leaders for a TB-Free World.’
He further highlighted the socio-economic conditions and personal risk factors that increase vulnerability to TB infection such as lack of proper housing, unemployment and poor sanitation, as well smoking tobacco products and harmful use of alcohol.
Also at the occasion was Dr Mary Brantuo, who spoke on behalf of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Brantuo said a TB-free world would only be achieved through leaders who champion efforts to end TB at local level.
Leaders have tremendous influence to build strong partnerships and commitment to end the TB epidemic at every level, said Brantuo. She further called upon the Namibian government to increase domestic funding for TB control and to take responsibility for essential medicines and laboratory supplies.
She also commended the government for increasing funding to fight TB by over 15-fold over the past 10 years.
“As the country works towards the ambitious goals of the End TB Strategy, WHO will continue to provide technical assistance at all stages of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluating of the interventions to ensure we together achieve a TB-free world,” said Brantuo. Various local artists including Exit joined the government and partners in calling for an end to TB, through performances at the commemoration.