Executive Director of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), Ben Nangombe said mineral miners are at exceptional risk of tuberculosis (TB) due to the working conditions inside mines.
Nangombe made these remarks during the Developing Country Implementation for Mine Health and Safety Standards Operating Procedures workshop here on Monday.
He added that the reason mineral miners are at exceptional risk is that the working conditions inside mines create a high-risk environment for TB transmission resulting from confined and poorly ventilated environments conducive to transmission.
“The TB incidence among miners is estimated to be as much as 10 times higher than in the populations from which they originate. Hence, prioritising TB services in the mining communities is of paramount importance,” he said.
Nangombe however said that an intergovernmental health organisation called the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC) has developed four generic Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to improve health and safety in the mining sector.
“These are risk management, early diagnosis and surveillance of TB, HIV and Occupational Lung Disease (OLD) programmes in mining; information, education and communication; quality management; and monitoring and evaluation of TB, HIV and OLD programmes in mining,” Nangombe stated.
The ED added that although the most common risk factors attributed to TB infection are HIV, malnourishment, excessive alcohol intake, smoking and diabetes mellitus, some progress has been made.
“We have set up a Multi-Stakeholder Committee for TB in the Mining Sector and are participating in the Project on TB in the Mining Sector (TIMS III project), which was launched on 25 February 2022, by the ECSA-HC,” he added.
Nangombe also indicated that TB continues to be a burden amongst people living with HIV/AIDS, and as a result, the World Health Organisation (WHO) ranked Namibia in the ninth position globally as a country with highest TB infection.