In 2012 there were more than 60 avoidable deaths a day from tuberculosis in Zimbabwe. Years of political instability and hyperinflation have caused food prices to soar and the country’s health system to collapse. Just over a third of Zimbabwe’s national TB programme budget is funded by government so many hospitals rely on support from charities.
Murambinda Mission Hospital
Since 2002, TB Alert has been funding the Murambinda Mission Hospital Tuberculosis Programme. Although it has just 120 beds, the hospital is one of only two hospitals serving Buhera District in Zimbabwe’s vast Manicaland Province. The district is home to 200,000 people, the majority of whom earn a meagre living as subsistence farmers.
Stats and facts: TB in Zimbabwe
In 2012, there were 61 avoidable deaths a day from TB in Zimbabwe.
- Number of new TB cases: 77,000
- Deaths from TB: 22,600
- Incidence: 562 per 100,000 of population
- Proportion of people with TB not diagnosed: 54%
- Percentage of cases with HIV: 71%
- Estimated new TB cases with multi-drug resistance: 1.9%
Ensuring people get the help they need
People in the Buhera district often have to travel great distances to get medical help. As a result, those with TB symptoms often delay seeking help until they are very ill, which also increases the risk of them passing TB on to others. Many people don’t realise how important it is for them to complete their treatment, and may stop their medication early, increasing the risk of developing drug-resistant TB. That’s why our programme is working to raise awareness of TB and ensure people can get diagnosed and treated quickly and effectively.
Training local staff and volunteers
Murambinda’s TB project is working to get more people into treatment and staying on their treatment by:
- training local community volunteers, who are known and trusted by their communities, to identify symptoms, refer suspected cases to local clinics and encourage patients to stay on their medication
- training and supporting local health workers to develop and manage TB programmes such as community outreach activities and to regularly collect and monitor data on the disease
- strengthening information systems to get a better picture of TB in the local area. By knowing which patients fail to complete treatment, staff can make follow-up visits to get them back onto treatment, and by keeping accurate records of drug stocks, they can ensure that clinics never run out of these life-saving medicines.
Murambinda Hospital’s TB Clerk, Emmanuel, uses a motorbike to reach isolated communities as part of his outreach work, supporting TB patients through their treatment. His work is changing lives.