Uniting Actions to End TB in Mining Sector of Southern Africa
Tackling TB and Multi-Drug Resistant TB must be at the heart of global action against infectious disease. The burden of TB is too great and the need for new treatment is too urgent.
Humana People to People is taking action against TB in Southern Africa, India and China. We know about the close relationship between HIV and TB as a cause for concern in addressing the HIV and AIDS epidemic. This realization called for integrating TB programming within the HIV and AIDS programs of Total Control of the Epidemic and HOPE Humana.
One of the world’s oldest diseases, TB has claimed more lives than any other infectious disease in human history, and since 2015 TB has surpassed HIV as the world’s deadliest. It is responsible for 1.5 million deaths annually.
About TB complication
Drug resistant TB has developed in part due to the lengthy treatment needed, as even standard TB requires six months to treat. This gets worse for drug resistant TB, taking as long as two years to treat with drugs that are stronger. These are only effective in 50% of cases and often create terrible side effects such as deafness, blindness, nausea, and in extreme cases, psychosis. The lengthy and difficult treatment means patients do not - or cannot - complete treatment, increasing the development of resistance. Increasing drug resistance has dire consequences.
Current MDR-TB treatment is up to 450 times more expensive than standard TB treatment. A growing MDR-TB epidemic will exponentially increase the burden on healthcare systems and national budgets.
If drug-resistance continues to grow on its current path we could return to an era where treatment becomes practically impossible. We need to act and the action has to be implemented now!
What Humana People to People is doing?
In an important on-going development, Global Fund and the World Bank are funding pilot innovative models to reduce the rate of TB in the Mining Sector across 10 countries in Southern Africa. Humana People to People member, ADPP Mozambique, is a lead implementing organization for one of the pilot models involving 8 countries in Southern Africa.
The TB in the Mining Sector (TIMS) program is a regional response to reduce the Tuberculosis burden in the mining sector in Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland, Tanzania South Africa and Zimbabwe. The TIMS program targets mineworkers, their families and People Living with HIV and AIDS due to their higher vulnerability to TB. Thus the program’s objectives are to focus specifically on the mining key populations; to identify best practices and scale them up in the region; to address specifically mobile populations that are not well catered for in national TB programs and to harmonize regional policy and legislation.
Under ADPP Mozambique management, five members of the Humana People to People network (Humana People to People Botswana, DAPP Malawi, ADPP Mozambique, DAPP Namibia and DAPP Zambia), and three other NGOs are coordinating active case finding of TB in mining populations across the region. Leading UK-based organisation TB Alert is providing technical support throughout the program.
The pilot builds on Humana People to People’s experiences in combining HIV/AIDS and TB outreach through its Total Control of the Epidemic (TCE) & Total Control of Tuberculosis (TC - TB) programs and is the first of its kind to be implemented at a regional level. The model integrates a door-to-door approach to provide accurate information and increase awareness as well as facilitate TB screening and HIV testing, referral for TB testing and treatment at healthcare facilities and support throughout treatment periods. By providing these services and incentives for both TB & HIV, the program also aims to tackle the increasing numbers of co-infection in the mining population.
By the end of the pilot in December 2017, implementing organisations expect to have honed the model to provide effective models that can be replicated and expanded to other target areas. Moreover, 214,000 miners, ex-miners and family members will be screened for TB across the 8 countries, awareness significantly increased and stigma decreased in mining communities.
Humana People to People and its members are scaling up efforts in fighting TB by taking the necessary steps which contribute to achieving the global agenda of the UN SDG 6, The End TB Strategy and the Global Plan to End TB 2016-2020 calls.