Fighting Tuberculosis in Tanzania

Date Published: 
Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious bacterial disease which is transmitted by air and can be fatal. Tanzania has one of the highest burdens of TB in the world with approximately 295 TB cases per 100,000 adults. Further, about 5 percent of adults in Tanzania are living with HIV or AIDS which according to the World Health Organisation, makes them 26 or 31 times more likely to become sick with TB due to their impaired immune system.

The mining sector is hardest hit by TB due to vulnerabilities caused by factors such as workers’ exposure to silica and dust, poor working and living conditions and a lack of TB prevention and education services. The prevalence of the disease, especially in small scale mining workers, erodes the positive contribution made by the sector to Tanzania’s economic development. Immediate intervention is required because the disease can be controlled and cured through early diagnosis and treatment.  

To celebrate World TB Day on 24 March 2016, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Tanzania worked together with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) to carry out TB testing in the Mererani region in Arusha. A team of 15 participants consisting of representatives from IOM and the MOHSW, ex-TB group members and medical staff organised the activities over 23 and 24 March 2016. Following a public announcement made around communities on 23 March 2016, almost 300 people were screened for TB in three mobile clinics. During this period, 27 cases of TB were diagnosed. Materials regarding the Stop TB Partnership, a collective force founded in 2001 of over 1300 partners working together to fight TB in more than 100 countries, were also distributed. Enna Lutengano, a Migration Health Consultant for IOM Tanzania said, “A major challenge in the mining communities is the lack of education about the issue, which is compounded by the lack of social support structures and the inability to access or afford health services”.

In Tanzania, IOM Tanzania is supporting the implementation of the 2012 Southern African Development Community Declaration on TB in the Mining Sector (SADCD). The SADCD affirms the member States’ commitment to the elimination of TB and pledges to improve practices related to health and safety in the mining sector. Under the framework of the Partnership on Health and Mobility in East and Southern Africa (PHAMESA), IOM assists the Technical Working Group (TWG) on TB/HIV Control to plan and execute interventions related to TB control in mines across the country.