18 August 2016
THE programme that Government has rolled out to target mining communities that are at high risk of tuberculosis to reduce the spread of the disease.
It is vital for all patients with active TB to be diagnosed early and put on effective treatment and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease must be hailed for putting measures in place to handle the TB scourge in mining communities.
These are communities that have a high risk of TB and all efforts must be made to treat the infected people and avoid the further spread of the disease.
Prolonged exposure to silica dust in deep mine shafts increases the risk of pulmonary tuberculosis so the prevalence of TB is much higher in mining communities than the general population.
Add to this the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) Country Director Dr Christopher Zishiriâ€™s sentiments that, â€œthe high levels of promiscuity that are often associated with artisanal miners also increase their risk to acquire HIV which in turn increases their potential to develop TB,â€ and you have a community that needs urgent attention if the TB problem is to be solved.
Now, close to 1.5 million people die from tuberculosis (TB) each year and its combination with HIV and Aids in particular has affected developing countries like Zimbabwe to a tragic extent.
Scientists have proven that the BCG vaccine that most adults were given in their younger days does well to immunize against TB but is not so effective in fending off pulmonary tuberculosis, particularly in adolescents and adults.
Africa must act fast on trying to curb TB especially because of the deadly dangers it poses when combined with HIV. Tuberculosis and HIV have been closely linked since the emergence of AIDS and the results have been tragic.
Worldwide, tuberculosis is the most common opportunistic infection affecting HIV-seropositive individuals, and it is the most common cause of death in patients with AIDS, killing one in every three patients.
Although HIV-related tuberculosis is both treatable and preventable, incidence rates continue to soar in developing nations where HIV infection and tuberculosis are endemic and resources are limited. Zimbabwe is no exception and must be alert to any advancements that can reduce the TB-HIV mortality rate and most of the attention must be directed at communities where the disease is common like mining communities.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one-third of the world’s population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, resulting in an estimated 8 million new cases of tuberculosis and nearly 2 million deaths each year.
These are scary numbers and care must be taken that they, not only increase but come down drastically so that the fight against TB and HIV and AIDS bears fruit.
The good thing about TB is it is curable, even when combined with HIV, and we should see a reduction in the number of people who die from the disease.