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Bulawayo records drop in TB-related deaths

by Staff reporter
14 Aug 2020 at 09:46hrs | Views
BULAWAYO has recorded a significant drop in tuberculosis (TB)-related deaths as the World Health Organisation (WHO) pushes for government to implement measures to limit transmissions and mortality in the face of COVID-19.

A latest Bulawayo City Council (BCC) health, housing and education report shows that the city recorded six deaths in June down from 18 in May and 15 registered in April.

"The number of TB notifications decreased slightly in June 2020. There was a decrease in those who died. This could have been attributed to the tuberculosis programme being put back on the agenda in the context of COVID 19," the council report read.

TB and COVID-19 are both highly infectious diseases.

The TB bacterium is spread through droplets in the air when an infected person coughs sneezes or talks and exposure to someone with untreated TB increases the chances of infection.

According to the WHO, experience on COVID-19 infection in TB patients remains limited and warns that people ill with both TB and COVID-19 may have poorer treatment outcomes, especially if TB treatment is interrupted.

WHO global TB programme director Teerza Kasaeva in May called on member States to scale up TB testing in the face of COVID-19 as the diseases present similar symptoms.

"Scale up simultaneous testing for TB and COVID-19, taking into consideration similarity of symptoms (cough, fever and difficulty breathing), and based on exposure or presence of risk factors," Kasaeva said in a statement.

"As countries prepare to share existing molecular platforms for COVID-19 testing, it will be essential to maintain current molecular diagnostic services for TB patients."

Zimbabwe is said to be one of the countries highly burdened by TB due to the HIV epidemic where HIV prevalence among the 15 to 49-year age group is 15%.

The current estimation of TB prevalence is 345 people per 100 000 and there is also 69% HIV co-infection in all TB cases (Global Report 2014).

Source - newsday