Swaziland: Nearly Half the People With Tuberculosis in Swaziland Don't Know They Have It, Report Suggests

Nearly half of the people in Swaziland (eSwatini) who have the disease tuberculosis (TB) do not know it, according to a new report.

TB in the kingdom is a prominent threat to public health. The situation is serious, especially because it often goes undetected.

TB is a bacteria that usually attacks the lungs, but it can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain.

A report published by Borgan from Seattle, United States, states some people with TB are asymptomatic (they show no signs of it). 'Thus, there is a disparity between individuals who unknowingly have tuberculosis and others who can become very ill. Common symptoms include chest pain, a strong cough lasting three or more weeks and coughing up blood or sputum.'

The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in 2017 estimated that the incidence of TB in Swaziland was 308 per 100,000 people. However, the mortality rate for tuberculosis was low at only 10 per 100,000 people in 2019. This is significantly lower than the 2003 mortality rate of 18 per 100,000 people. The National Tuberculosis Control Programme (NTCP) estimates that children account for only 10 percent percent of all Swazis with tuberculosis.

The report stated, 'Though these rates may seem low, tuberculosis in Eswatini is still a serious public health issue. Swazis may not be dying from the disease as they once were, but they continue to live with it. Approximately 47 percent of Swazis with tuberculosis have gone undetected.'

The CDC is one organization that works directly with the Swazi Ministry of Health to address tuberculosis infection. It especially focuses on providing technical assistance to promote combined tuberculosis and HIV aid. This assistance includes testing, preventative treatment, and antiretroviral treatment. Its efforts have been effective as the organization reported the tuberculosis treatment rate of success to be 83 percent in 2016.

The Borgan report concluded, 'Tuberculosisi in eSwatini remaains a prominent threat to public health. The situation is serious, especially because it often goes undetected.

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