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What is TB?

 

TB stands for Tuberculosis, which is a infectious disease that is caused by an organism called Mycobacterium tuberculosis that most often affects the lungs. TB is one of the top ten causes of death worldwide, with almost 2 million people dying per year.

TB is spread from person to person through the air. When a person infected with TB coughs, sneezes spits, screams or talks, they propel the TB germs into the air. These germs can stay alive in the air up to a couple of hours, but are easily killed by sunlight or spread by wind. That's why closed, crowded rooms without ventilation cause a high risk of infection. Prevention of TB is not difficult however, read our tips here.

 

Latent and active TB
Not everyone who is infected by the bacteria gets sick. Some have the disease but the bacteria are only present in very small numbers. The body is still able to fight them off, and the person doesn't show any symptoms of the disease.

When the person starts to show symptoms, it means the disease has become active. They will start to show symptoms as coughing (sometimes with blood), fever, excessive night sweat, chest pain or weight loss. Because the symptoms are very similar to those of other diseases (flu, malaria), a person needs to get tested to be sure he or she is indeed infected with TB. Once diagnosed they will undergo a treatment for six months.

 

Tanzania
Tanzania is one of the 22 so called High Burden Countries, who together cover 80 - 90 percent of the TB cases world wide. In Tanzania there are 164,000 new cases of TB every year, but only an estimated 36% of people suffering from Tuberculosis get detected and/or treated. There are a lot of reasons why this happens:

 

  • There are a lot of misconceptions about (the signs of) TB among the general population
  • People delay going to the hospital for several reasons: lack of funds, the distance from home to the hospital, stigma or partners who are not cooperating.
  • Hospitals are not equipped to test everyone for TB.
  • Medical facilities miss TB cases because there is no routine screening for TB.
  • Finishing treatment is a challenge because of stigma and a lack of friendly services and proper education about the treatment.

Almost half of all the people newly diagnosed with TB in Tanzania are also infected with HIV. TB is a leading cause of death for patients with HIV co-infection. 

 

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Mukikute helps

We as Mukikute are always advocating to help resolve the challenges mentioned above. We want to make sure that health services are equiped and accessible for all people and that all people receive decent care based on their specific needs. We do that by connecting to social and traditional media such as newspapers and tv stations. These are most effective in reaching a broad audience. We also educate the general population about TB by use of traditional drama and leaflets. During those performances we offer the possibility for people to get tested on TB and HIV.

Besides that we also run our own testing services and offer treatment support. We are a patient organisation, which means almost all of our staff have survived the disease. We know what we are talking about, and are dedicated to make Tanzania TB free within our life time. Together we can!