Government clueless on TB in mines

Government on Friday made shocking remarks that it is not aware of the extent  to which Tuberculosis in mining is a problem to the country.

These shocking remarks surfaced at the second stakeholder meeting on TB in the mining sector in Harare on Friday.

This comes at a time when Zimbabwe is one of the 22 Tuberculosis burdened countries in the world.

Speaking at the stakeholder meeting, the Deputy Director of AIDS and TB in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Charles Sandy revealed that they are not able to tell the extent to which tuberculosis is a problem in the mining sector.

“As government we are not able to tell the degree to which TB in the mines is a problem to the nation as a whole,” he said.

He also said that TB Treatment outcomes remain suboptimal.

Despite government’s lack of knowledge on TB in mines it is believed that 90% cases of tuberculosis are from the mines.

Speaking at the same event World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, Dr David Okello revealed that Zimbabwe is among the countries that will fail to meet the stop TB partnership targets.

“Consequently, Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the only two regions not on track to meet the stop TB partnership targets and Zimbabwe is not an exception,” said WHO country representative

He also said that, “TB still remains a major public health concern in many developing countries. The onset of HIV/AIDS and the recent development of multi drug resistant have exacerbated the global threat of TB, causing a lot of suffering and huge economic burden to families and communities.

Meanwhile, National Social Security Authority (NSSA) seem to be underestimating the magnitude of TB in mines.

According to Mrs M. Name, the Occupational Nursing Officer at NSSA only 27 cases of TB in mines have been picked in the first half of the year.

However Dr. Charles Zinyemba, the Medical Services Manager at Hwange Colliery reveled that that in the last four years Hwange Colliery  recorded close to 4,000 cases of TB.

According to 2014 WHO Global TB Report, about 9 million people were diagnosed with TB globally. The report also stipulates that global response to the TB epidemic has seen some achievements made in the reduction of TB related death and incidence of TB cases.

However, progress to eliminate the burden of TB still faces challenges which still need to be addressed.

It is estimated that the mining industry is responsible for 760,000 cases in the general population.