6 October 2017

Malawi: Uncooperative Miners Hampering TB Fight

Mzuzu — Health officials in Mzimba have bemoaned that uncooperative small scale miners are hindering efforts in the fight against tuberculosis (TB) as they work without protective wear.

Mzimba North District Health Office Public Relations Officer, Lovemore Kawayi said in an interview Wednesday that it is disappointing that some vulnerable groups are neglecting their advice to always wear protective gear.

"The mining sector is one of the sectors that we have targeted with civic education and voluntary TB testing services because people working there are at high risk of contracting the disease.

"We hold frequent meetings with their representatives who are asked to encourage their colleagues to protect themselves but for them to deliberately refrain from protection is a discouraging development," Kawayi said.

A visit to one of the growing small-scale mining sites at Jarawe in Sonda area in Mzuzu, revealed that out of the 26 miners present, only one was using a face mask but without a cap and boots.

One of the miners, Ethel Mhone acknowledged that they do not wear protective gear out of negligence.

She said due to low income levels, the miners purchase low quality gears that they eventually do not use because of lack of comfort especially in hot weather conditions.

"Recommended gears are very expensive for us; as a result, we opt for cheaper ones which are of low standard and uncomfortable for us to use all day.

"However, I must agree that it is not right for us to work without protecting ourselves," said Mhone who has been in quarry business since 2006.

The district health office, Department of Labour and the Department of Mining are jointly conducting weekly civic education and voluntary TB testing exercises in formal and informal mines in Mzimba as one way of fighting TB.

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