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High rates of tuberculosis infection continue to be a huge concern in Tsumkwe Constituency in the Otjozondjupa Region.

Otjozondjupa Regional Health Director Gerbardo Timotheus shared his concern during a meeting with Otjozondjupa Governor James Uarikua.
 
The health director with the United Nations Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is on a week-long visit in the region to assess programmes supported by CDC Namibia.

During the meeting, Timotheus highlighted the need for continued awareness and diagnosis at Tsumkwe due to the high number of drug-resistant TB cases.

"Otjozondjupa Region is one of the regions in Namibia that is really challenged by TB. As you have been hearing and also knowing, we are having cases of resistant TB, especially in the constituency of Tsumkwe. This challenge has been there and is still there, and the CDC and Ministry of Health and Social Services are trying their level best to see how we can overcome this challenge. They are going to look into ways and means how they might scale up the current support they are giving to us, which is not necessary in Tsumkwe and Gam."

UN Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Country Director Dr. Brian Baxter says the visit is to look at how the support of N$1.5 billion is being utilised.

"We have been in Namibia for over 20 years now, and we support all 14 regions, including, of course, Otjozondjupa. Our annual operating budget for support is about N$1.5 billion. Our focus, as was mentioned, is primarily on tuberculosis and HIV, but it's also related to strengthening health systems in related areas, and we plan and develop strategies for how we can help support Namibians with the resources we are privileged to use here."

Otjozondjupa Governor James Uerikua raised concern over the limited number of medical doctors at Tsumkwe.

Currently, Tsumkwe health facilities are served by the Grootfontein District Hospital, about 275 kilometres away.

"There is a need now for us to put up what you call a health hospital, I mean, a district hospital in that area or something of a similar nature. That is, through proper funding. As you know, the Ministry of Health is already overstretched in terms of the budget, but be that as it may, Tsumkwe is the area with the highest TB rate in our region to start with. Number two, in terms of the resistance of TB in the country, Tsumkwe happens to be the one that is topping. So we need to create a system where now the Ministry of Health has what you call the health promoters, the extension, they conduct visits at the various homesteads to assess patients and how best that patient can be assisted, and a programme like that is beefed up."

The 2021 Global TB Report indicated Namibia ranks among the top ten countries burdened by TB in the world per capita. 

The current treatment success for the country stands at 87 percent of the 90 percent target.

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NBC Digital News

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Faith Sankwasa