Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on September 19, 2012

Labels: Namibia , Infectious Disease

Fighting TB in the Kavango Region of Namibia

Fresh from our positive experience at the two Northern Namibia villages, today's visit to the Nkurenkuru Tuberculosis Clinic offered a sobering contrast. 

Yet despite the challenges faced by the more 70 patients being seen at the clinic who are receiving treatment for TB, there was an underlying sense of hope. 

Why is there hope? Since 2010, when Project HOPE began educating the residents in the Kavango Region about TB, assisting in the detection of the disease and managing patient treatment, the cure rate has increased from 30 percent to nearly 80 percent. 

Tuberculosis is a very treatable disease if diagnosed early and prescribed treatment measures are followed. Before HOPE field workers began implementing an aggressive community outreach effort to educate and detect TB, people with the disease did not recognize the symptoms and seldom sought care. This lack of knowledge about TB contributed to the spread of the disease and the severe deterioration of the individual's quality of life. 

Thanks to a dedicated team of nearly 100 HOPE field workers who were originally funded by a USAID grant and now by the Global Fund, people in the region have a better understanding of TB, seek help faster and are compliant with taking their medicines. In fact, there is a 100 percent adherence rate for patients taking their TB medicines at the HOPE-run clinics in the Kavango Region. 

In the words of one Namibian health official, Project HOPE went into an underperforming region in terms of progress against TB, and turned it into a success. Now that's reason for hope.

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