Zambians Encouraged to get screened for Tuberculosis

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Texila American University TAU-Zambia says the fight against Tuberculosis TB should be a collective effort of government, relevant stakeholders and the general public.

TAU Assistant Professor, Brigadier General Dr Lawson Simapuka (pictured), says individuals should take personal responsibility to ensure they reduce the risk of catching TB. He said some ways in which someone can protect themselves is by ensuring that good nutrition is a priority, avoidance of excess alcohol intake, and living in well ventilated spaces.

Brigadier General Dr Simapuka attributed the resurgence of TB to the rise in HIV/AIDS cases, poor living conditions and malnutrition. He has since commended government for the ongoing sensitization programs but said that more should be done to ensure that information on TB and how it can be prevented and cured is spread to every citizen. He further recommended effective TB control programs which includes the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO)’s three I’s strategy: Intensified case-finding (ICF), Isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) and infection control (IC) at all clinical encounters.

Intensified Case Finding indicates that even in the era of widespread availability of anti-retroviral therapy (ART), many people with HIV infection who have had access to HIV care die with TB undiagnosed. It is therefore recommended that all persons living with HIV should be screened with a clinical algorithm at each clinical encounter. Those who do not report any one of: current cough, fever, weight loss or night sweats are unlikely to have active TB and should be offered IPT. It has been known for many years that IPT for HIV positive individuals prevents TB. It is also recommended that persons living with HIV who are unlikely to have active TB should receive at least 6 months of IPT as part of a comprehensive package of HIV care.

TB infection control practices should be in place in all congregate settings and in health facilities providing HIV care. TB infection control practices include personal, administrative, and environmental controls as well as health worker surveillance. Informing communities and the general public about these practices will also to help to reduce the spread of TB.

“TB is a chronic disease affecting the lungs (Pulmonary Tuberculosis) and is caused by a micro-organism known as Mycobacterium Tuberculosis,” said Brigadier General Dr Simapuka.

“From the lungs it can also spread to other organs and cause disease (Extra-pulmonary Tuberculosis). The young and old are at risk, malnourished individuals, diabetics, patients on steroids, immuno-suppressive therapy patients, pregnant women, immuno-supression (HIV Infection), people in over crowded and poorly ventilated spaces. In short, anyone can catch tuberculosis, but the most at risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) is estimated to be between 16-27 times greater in people living with HIV than among those without HIV infection. Therefore, I would like to encourage everybody to visit the nearest health center or hospital to get checked for TB. The good news is that it can be cured.”

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