Lesotho launches TB prevalence survey

Lesotho launches TB prevalence survey

MAFETENG – THE Ministry of Health will soon conduct a household survey to establish the TB Prevalence rates in Lesotho.
This was said during the launch of the TB Prevalence Survey in Matšaneng in Mafeteng on Monday.

The Director General Health Services (DGHS) Dr ’Nyane Letsie said it is vital to know the TB prevalence rate in Lesotho.
Just like HIV/AIDS, a survey is necessary to establish the extent of the problem among Basotho, she said.

Dr Letsie said the survey will be conducted by visiting households randomly selected in clusters countrywide.
“Once this survey is done, the TB Programme will be enhanced. And this study will portray Lesotho’s stand on TB,” she said.
Another aim of the survey, Dr Letsie, said is to know the people who are infected with the disease so that they can be assisted at health centres.

Dr Letsie urged the public not to hide any information from the health workers so that they could be assisted.
Speaking at the launch of the programme, Mafeteng Mayor, Nthoesana Leferefere, commended the Mafeteng Health Centre for its outstanding effort to eradicate Tuberculosis.

Leferefere pleaded with the Ministry of Health to provide enough equipment to the health centre since it is the biggest hospital in the district.
Leferefere said the health centre should be equipped so that it could be able to treat TB effectively.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Acting Representative in Lesotho, Dr Suzan Tembo, said her organization is available at all times to provide support through the required expertise.

Dr Tembo congratulated the government of Lesotho for embarking on the TB Programme.
“Progress in addressing TB is (struggling) to reach global target or close resistant gaps in TB care and prevention. In 2017, 10 million people developed TB and 1.3 million died. However, in Lesotho the situation is of great concern,” she said.

Lesotho is among the top 30 countries with high burden incident rate of about 365 000. More than half of people are not diagnosed and this means there are many people who are likely to be affected.

Dr Tembo said the WHO aims to encourage countries to have precise TB estimates of prevalence because they serve as a baseline for future surveys.

A representative of the University Research Company (URC), ‘Mankhala Sempe, said the Ministry of Health decided that the URC should be in charge of the survey countrywide.

Thus far, the URC has visited Mapoteng, Khafung, Ha Nkepe, Ha Letšoara, Ha Ts’olo, Matholeng and Matšaneng from 17 February 2019.
About 26 000 people in the country are yet to be tested in order to give the TB prevalence rate in general.

“In about five groups so far, the URC has found almost 10 people who have developed TB but did not know (about this). This implies that by the completion of this survey many people will be found,” Sempe said.

She said each and every person who took part in the survey will be screened, based on the answers they give during the study.
The chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on TB, Fako Moshoeshoe, was not impressed with the turnout of the people of Matšaneng because he said he feared that most people in the surrounding areas were affected.

“It is in these areas where ex-mineworkers are found and are likely to have developed TB, but with their absence; how will they know,” Moshoeshoe quipped.

He further pleaded with those who have one person infected or was once infected in the family to get screened.
Dr Llang Maama from the Ministry of Health said the households’ visits take up to three days per cluster and on the third day, the screening takes place.

She said during the piloting session, ex-mineworkers refused to take part in the survey and therefore, urged the public to encourage them to show up for the survey.

The Deputy Minister of Health ‘Manthabiseng Phohleli said the study will be conducted nationwide under the guidance of the Bureau of Statistics.

Phohleli said the main purpose is to know the TB prevalence rate amongst Basotho aged 15 years and above.
“The WHO advised Lesotho to embark on this survey in order for the country to have a record of TB prevalence. Thus far, Lesotho is ranked among the 30 countries which are faced with high prevalence. However, these are just estimations,” she said.

Studies have shown that Lesotho has a huge number of people who have developed a severe case of TB known as MDR.
Those who delay to get treatment can infect others in the community,

Phohleli insisted that the TB crisis should be declared a national emergency.
“Once the survey is done, we will plan ahead and improve our policies in order to eradicate the disease since it is our obligation as the government,” she added.

Phohleli pleaded with Basotho to take part in the survey because it is through them that Lesotho’s TB prevalence will be known.
“I advise you to listen to your radios so that you could be fully informed about the survey,” she said.

Tokase Mphutlane

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