Namibia has witnessed a marked decline in TB deaths and cases in 2020, the deputy minister of health Esther Muinjangue has said.
Muinjangue said the deaths declined from 605 in 2019 to 564 in 2020. The cases declined by over 1 000 from 7 718 cases in 2019 compared to 6 537 in 2020.
Of these cases, the minister stressed, 635 were children under the age of 15.
Despite the decline in the deaths, the deputy minister said the cases compared to the Namibian population are far too many from one disease.
Muinjangue also noted that while there is a positive trend in the reduction of the cases recorded, the country should not be quick to celebrate the results yet because there was a restriction on the movement of people last year due to Covid-19.
“We have seen a decline in the number of sick people visiting our facilities, but we know there is a need for increased attention to ensure that we do not miss any cases of TB in the country,” said Muinjangue.
Muinjangue was speaking at the World TB day commemoration at Oshikango on Friday.
The deputy minister commended Namibia for continuing to register significant progress in the fight against TB, despite being challenged by a high capita on the disease.
“It is, therefore, important that all those with TB are found and started on treatment as soon as possible, thereby minimising the further spread of the disease,” said Muinjangue.
As far as treatment is concerned, 86% of new patients commenced and completed their treatment in 2019.
While the figure is relatively high, there is still a need to combine efforts to make sure all patients who commence TB treatment are successfully treated as the World Health Organisation (WHO) target remains at 90%.
The deputy minister thus pleaded with regional health directors to provide unconditional support to the nurses who are working as District Tuberculosis and Leprosy Coordinators in all the 35 districts.
In the same vein, the deputy minister encouraged regional health directors to ensure they take an active role in the implementation of the TB programmes in their respective regions and continue providing uninterrupted TB services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The deputy minister further informed that there is a dual epidemic of TB and HIV – as such, in 2020, 31% of all TB patients tested positive for HIV.
The minister thus implored the public to know their HIV status as there are effective ways to prevent TB if one is HIV positive.
Meanwhile, the deputy minister said the ministry continues to expand efforts to ensure that all HIV positive TB patients are started on antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible. - email@example.com