Malteser Germany combats both TB and HIV/AIDS in Nairobi slums

World Health Day, 7 April 2004

Cologne/Nairobi. In sub-Saharan Africa, 1.6 Million people suffer from tuberculosis (TB), more than 6.000 people die of AIDS every day. Both infections are closely linked. In the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, 70 percent of all TB-patients are also infected with HIV.
In eight slums of Nairobi, Malteser Germany improves medical care for 700,000 people, combating the dissemination of both diseases. “There are only few programmes in the world successfully combining containment of TB with measures of combating AIDS”, reports Dr. Peter Schmitz, medical coordinator of Malteser Germany’s Foreign Aid Department, on his return from Nairobi. “This is why the work of Malteser Germany in Nairobi has model character.”

Since August 2002 Malteser has installed laboratories in health centres in 8 slums of Nairobi. Thus, TB-patients can be diagnosed and treated within the slum-areas. In the Malteser lab in the slum of Kariobangi, with a total population of about 100,000, 367 people were tested positive of TB in 2003. This peak value of all labs in Nairobi has been appreciated by the Kenyan government awarding a prize to Malteser. 12.5 percent of all TB-cases found in Nairobi last year have been diagnosed in the eight Malteser labs in the slums of Nairobi. .

Furthermore, Malteser Germany and the medical relief agency “action medeor” have allocated a device for HIV-control, worth 20,000 Euro, to St. Mary’s hospital in Nairobi. The machine counts a particular kind of white blood-cells, so called CD4-cells. It gives the necessary data in order to decide whether the patient is in the state of AIDS and should be treated with modern AIDS-medicaments. The CD4-counter makes blood-testing a lot cheaper than before: Instead of 20 Euro, only 5 Euroneed to be charged for the blood-test. This is important because Malteser Germany wants to give the population of the slums access to diagnosis and treatment of diseases being linked with HIV. Until today, less than one percent of people infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa have access to the necessary AIDS-medicaments.