Tanzania: TB Patients Shun Clinics Over Covid-19 Fear

SOME Tuberculosis patients have stopped attending clinics since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, something that endangers their lives and people surrounding them, it has been revealed.

According to Dodoma Regional Immunisations and Vaccination Officer (RIVO), Francis Bujiku, the available reports show that some TB patients stopped scheduled clinics due to fear of being infected with Covid-19 and being stigmatised by the health staff.

During a two-day seminar, organised by Steps Tanzania, for a non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that implements different TB interventions and child protection in Dodoma and Singida regions over the weekend, Mr Bujiku advised the TB patients to resume taking their doses.

"One of the outcomes of this seminar is that we want you (participants) to go and convince them (patients) to go back to hospitals and complete their medication, because there is no reasons to fear," he noted.

Mr Bujiku added that the fear among the TB patients was high during the outbreak of the pandemic due to several reasons, adding that in some occasions people failed to differentiate those diseases.

"Most of them thought that Covid-19 is also transmitted by air like TB, so they fear to attend the clinic because they already harbour a bad experience with airborne diseases. But the truth is; Covid-19 is spread through saliva drops," he clarified.

On his side, the Director of Steps Tanzania, who facilitated the training, Dr Cyprian Magere, revealed that the aim of the seminar was to bring together and equip staff of those NGOs with knowledge.

He noted that some TB patients feared to attend the clinic when the pandemic was at the pick due to stigmatization; health workers reportedly treated them as Covid-19 patients.

"We want them (participants) to know how to differentiate Covid and TB, despite the ailments affecting the respiratory system... there is a big gap in the societies and they have to fill it up to remove the misunderstandings from the public and to their fellow community's health workers," he pointed out.

He added that the two-day seminar was also aimed at equipping the participants with knowledge about the Covid-19 vaccination, so that the CSOs could collaborate with community health workers to help the government on creating awareness in the community to turnout for vaccination.

Dr Magere expressed that after realizing the low turnout of citizens in vaccination centres, his organization was committed to ensuring that Tanzania attains the vaccination target.

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