EANNASO in collaboration with the Tanzania TB Community Forum, Kibong’oto Infectious Diseases Hospital, Simanjiro District Tuberculosis and Leprosy Coordinator and Mererani Health Center observed World TB Day on March 24 in Mererani, Tanzania.
The theme of World TB Day 2018 was “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world”. The theme focused on building commitment to end TB, not only at the political level with Heads of State and Ministers of Health, but at all levels from Mayors, Governors, parliamentarians and community leaders, to people affected with TB, civil society advocates, health workers, doctors or nurses, NGOs and other partners. All can be leaders of efforts to end TB in their own work or terrain.
Participants were ex-TB patients, doctors, nurses, and staff of the partners' organization, social. That was truly representative response in communicating the messages to the social locality and creating awareness that will help in fighting against TB.
A vehicle mounted with a loudspeaker was used to deliver important TB messages and also health staff from participating institutions provided group education and educational leaflets to individual mineworkers, community and families. The event also involved TB screening and HIV testing both in the mines and at Mererani town. More than 200 miners and their families were screened for TB while about 280 were tested for HIV. Through this event, also leaders were sensitized including Government and Religious leaders, in the fight against TB.
The Mererani mines in Simanjro District Manyara region are a single largest Tanzanite deposit in the world, but also have some of the worst working conditions that are occasioned with high TB infections along with other contagious diseases. Miners in Mererani are at extreme risk of TB because of HIV infection and silicosis, exacerbated by working conditions and living environments.
This was confirmed by the by the District medical offer citing that 70% of the TB and HIV patients in the district are from Mererani. Dr. Alex from Kibong’oto Infectious Diseases Hospital added that majority og the patients at the hospital comes from Mererani “The outbreak of diseases such as TB and fungus infections are common among artisanal and small scale miners. The mines increases the risk of miners contracting TB and also sharply increases the risk of TB spreading in the community. Over exposure to silica dust causes silicosis, an incurable lung disease, and also impairs the ability of the immune system to control TB infection and prevent TB disease. Mineworkers and their communities are high risk group for TB which needs particular attentions.