Tanzania Health Promotion Support (THPS) has been screening people for Tuberculosis (TB) in the Coast Region as a way of fighting the deadly infectious disease.
The THPS Chief Executive Officer, Dr Redempta Mbatia, told the ‘Daily News’ in an exclusive interview that at least 105 out of 1239 screened people, were found with TB and underwent treatment for six months.
The revelations were contained in their latest report that covers a period between January and March this year. 1239 were asked five questions as per the national policy guideline instructions during the study.
A questionnaire with 5 questions has been developed and is in use and must be offered to all HIV+ patients be in Care and Treatment Centers (CTC), Preventing Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) or any place were patients are tested for HIV.
“What this means is that the region has attained a 99 per cent success rate of screening people with HIV/AIDS to detect TB and that with the remaining 13 people, because of one reason or another, the patients weren’t asked the five questions,” she said. According to the TB/HIV national policy guidelines, all HIV patients are supposed to be screened for TB.
Dr Mbatia explained that when a person is tested positive for HIV/AIDS, they have to be screened for TB because it is the disease that kills most HIV/ AIDS patients than any other. She mentioned the five questions that are routinely asked by medical personnel as whether they sweat above normal at night, if they are coughing blood, if they have lost at least 10 per cent of their weight within a month, if they have had a fever for at least two weeks and if they had a continuous cough for two weeks.
“Medical practitioners working in the Coast Region where THPS supports more than 179 health facilities across seven districts deserve a pat on the back for this achievement, they have not only saved 105 people from the TB but most importantly saved a lot more since TB is very contagious,” she explained.
Dr Mbatia said that during the first quarter of 2012, THPS found that there were many people who had stopped taking ARVs, which was worrying. She attributed the problem to long distances to centres where ARVs are prescribed, superstitious beliefs, fear of stigmatization and believing in magic cures like concoctions administered by once famous Babu of Loliondo.
Coast Region has targeted to ensure that 4013 people receive ARVs by September but statistics show that between October 2011 and March 2012, only 1369 people had been reached. Data further show that none of the seven districts of the Coast Region has reached the 50 per cent mark with Mafia lagging behind with only 24.48 percent while Kisarawe district leads with 38.57 per cent and Bagamoyo trails with 38.23 per cent.
By MASEMBE TAMBWE, Tanzania Daily News