TB smothers Tsumkwe

11 October 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

Namibia has the eighth highest tuberculosis (TB) prevalence in the world, with the San community in the Tsumkwe area being the most affected by the disease, especially the drug-resistant strain.

It has been found that by 2019, an estimated 36% of the roughly 7 700 reported cases had absconded without treatment. The number has since significantly reduced to a national total of 6 537 TB cases in 2020.

The health ministry said Tsumkwe has contributed about 10% of the regional population and between 70 and 80% of the regional drug-resistant TB burden.

It is also reported that several interventions, including community gardens to boost nutrition among the Tsumkwe community, no longer exist.

This information was contained in an update by the health ministry to Amnesty International on the country’s TB response.

It stated that the Khomas, Erongo and Ohangwena regions recorded the highest numbers at 17%, 11% and 9% of the total cases.

According to this update, the country recorded 218 cases of drug-resistant TB in 2020, marking a decrease from 298 in 2019, with all these cases being resistant to Rifampicin.

The highest number of drug-resistant TB cases were reported in Otjozondjupa at 37 cases, followed by the Kavango regions at 31 and Khomas at 29.

Plenty reason

Health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe said there are several factors contributing to the high numbers, but adherence to treatment protocols emerged as the major reason.

He added that crowded living conditions and other aspects of the San lifestyle contributed to the progression of TB to drug-resistant variants.

“Anecdotal information has pointed to the lack of adherence with treatment. There was also the question of lifestyle, whether smoking or living conditions or issues related to their diet,” he noted.

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