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Namibia has the 8th highest rate of TB globally out of 30, with an estimated 36% of cases going untreated in 2019.

The ranking by the World Health Organisation is for both estimated TB incidence and the TB incidence among People Living With HIV.

According to the health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe, Namibia had an estimated 12 000 TB cases and notified the World Health Organisation of 7 718.

He said that the treatment success rates and drug-susceptible TB and drug-resistant TB were 86% (2919 cohort) and 68% (2018 cohort).

In 2020, Nangombe said, the number of TB cases was 6 537, a significant reduction of 15% from 2019’s figure.

“The case notification rate in 2020, based on the burden of all forms of active TB, also decreased to 263 cases per 100 000 people from 314 per 100 000 in 2019,” he said.

The most affected regions were Khomas, Erongo and Ohangwena that reported 17%, 11% and 9%, respectively, to the 6 537 TB cases.

Otjozondjupa and Omaheke both recorded 7%.

Furthermore, Nangombe said the number of patients with drug-resistant TB in 2020 was 218 compared to the 298 reported in 2019.

Otjozondjupa recorded the highest number of people with drug-resistant TB, with 17%. These were in Grootfontein (27), and Tsumkwe (24).

Tsumkwe has, since 2009, been contributing about 10% of the region’s drug-resistant population of between 70% and 90%.

Nangombe said while local policies and guidelines provide for universal use of rapid molecular tests and universal drug-susceptibility testing (DST) for TB, this has been difficult to achieve under the current environment.

He said there had been interruptions in the diagnostic capabilities of the Namibia Institute of Pathology.

Nangombe said the health ministry established a National TB and Leprosy Programme in 1991 under the Primary Health Care Directorate.

The programme spearheaded consultations with families, communities, and traditional leaders on TB treatment delivery during 2010/2021.

Apart from the programme, Nangombe said, a multi-stakeholder committee for TB was initiated, during which the proposed mode of treatment delivery and prevention strategies were presented to various stakeholders.

Julia Heita

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