Botswana records high TB cases

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GABORONE - A Gaborone city councillor, Mr Oabile Mafunga says Botswana has one of the worlds highest burdens of tuberculosis (TB).

Officiating at a TB patient information sharing session in Gaborone last week, Councillor Mafunga who was speaking on behalf of the mayor said the current notification rate in Botswana was at 470 per 100 000 population.

He regretted that more than 10 per cent of institutional admissions and over five per cent of patient attendances were due to TB related diseases.

Mr Mafunga also noted that TB was one of the most prevalent opportunistic diseases associated with HIV/AIDS.

Councillor Mafunga further said Gaborone was also highly affected by TB, noting that although information has been disseminated, lack of understanding could be a shortcoming.He stated that since many people in Gaborone were literate, one could assume that they were knowledgeable about TB.

The numbers of TB patients in Gaborone in 2008 was 1 137 and there are 800 patients currently registered, a development which Mr Mafunga said showed significant reduction.

Mr Mafunga however noted that both the caregivers and those affected by TB had come together in a sober gathering to discuss and explore what best could be done to reduce TB or eradicate it. Nevertheless, he pointed out that it was futile for government to spend money in TB programmes without nurturing the attitude of accepting responsibility from those who are beneficiaries of these programmes.

He pointed out that TB may be treated, but if patients would not adhere to treatment, it would be an exercise in futility.

For her part, TB coordinator at Princess Marina Hospital, Mrs Cynthia Caiphus said the objective of the day was to have an informal dialogue with TB patients and caregivers to forge way forward for the eradication of TB. Mrs Caiphus also said the session was meant to further impart knowledge on caregivers on how they should handle their patients.

It was further to strengthen the relationship among the three concerned parties and further encourage patients to know the importance of collecting sputum from them on certain intervals to check whether they were recuperating or not.

Mrs Caiphus noted that government wanted to see TB patients having regained their good health status once more and running their private and economic affairs once more for the benefit of their children.

During the gathering, caregivers encouraged TB patients not to abscond from medication or either take alcohol while on treatment as that may render the drugs useless.

On their part, some TB patients wanted to know whether there would be some arrangement made for them to be provided with large quantities of tablets as some of them will be going on holiday. However they were told to liaise with their area health clinic.

The patients were drawn from areas which include Old Naledi, Extension 14 and Bontleng location. BOPA