MOZAMBIQUE: The explosive growth of tuberculosis in Beira slums
An estimated 50 percent of Beira's TB cases are coinfected with HIV
BEIRA, 23 March 2007 (IRIN) - TB cases are rising rapidly in the coastal town of Beira, according to local doctors.
The city of half a million, which is the capital of Mozambique’s most HIV/AIDS affected province, logged 2,736 new TB cases last year, a 5 percent increase from 2005.
Three patients who were suspected of having multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB, a strain of the disease that is resistant to two of the five first-line TB drugs, were sent to the capital city of Maputo for further treatment.
According to Custodio da Cruz, a local doctor, half of Beira’s TB patients are co-infected with HIV. Prevalence of HIV in the province is estimated at 26.5 percent.
The living conditions of the city’s poor have only compounded the problem.
“The population of Munhava [an impoverished suburb of Beira] live in slums, without healthy, hygienic conditions, which facilitates the spread of the bacterium that causes TB, resulting in an explosion [of infection],” Cruz said.
Paulo Francisco, a 21-year-old from Munhava, contracted TB while nursing his mother.
While treatment is available in Munhava, Francisco sometimes struggles to access it.
“When I arrive late, I don’t receive my medication,” he said. “Sometimes I am dismissed from the clinic.”
Cruz noted that 320 TB patients had died after abandoning treatment.
While seven of Beira's 12 public health facilities provide TB treatment, Cruz said only one is adequately ventilated to lower the risk of TB transmission. This report is part of a PlusNews In-depth: 'The New face of TB: Drug Resistance and HIV'