National Tuberculosis Control Program (NTCP) says community sputum collection points managed by volunteers in Mchinji District have brought a big impact in as far as TB case detection is concerned.
This was disclosed in Mchinji district by Alex Mphalasa, Mchinji deputy TB officer.
Mphalasa said NTP together with the community volunteers are registering more cases of TB through Community sputum collection points and a number of presumptives are flocking to volunteers for screening.
“For example, in the year 2020 we had about 1782 presumptives of which 95 people were diagnosed as TB patients and were put on TB treatment and this represent 20%.
“In 2021 from January to June we had 247 presumptives of which 13 were diagnosed as TB patients, so what it is means is that 13 % of TB cases are coming from the community sputum collection points and this is a very good initiative and a lot of lives are being saved through this initiative and these volunteers are doing a very great job in terms of screening our patients at community level.
“People are no longer walking a long distance to get tested for TB now they are being assisted in their community so this a very good initiative,” said Mphalasa.
Mphalasa added that they need more resources to train more volunteers as right now they only have 41 sputum collection points in Mchinji but their plan is to have at least 100 sputum collection points and now they are working on establishing new sputum collection points.
Mchinji district in 2020 registered 466 patients and from January to June this year has registered 249 patients.
According to Mphalasa, Mchinji now has 3% death rate and some of these are related to HIV and Covid-19. A lot of patients are taking drugs and getting cured from TB at the end of their treatment. The cure rate is now at 95%.
“So people were afraid that if they come for testing at the hospital they will be diagnosed as covid-19 patients but now we are doing a quite number of good initiatives, our volunteers are disseminating information to our communities and also at various centres we have HSAs that are disseminating information pertaining to covid-19 and TB,” said Mphalasa.
In his remarks, Kochilira rural hospital TB officer Kalebe Mumba, said since they started the initiative almost 75 % of TB patients have been cured from TB at Kochilira rural hospital and this is a great achievement as far as fighting TB is concerned.
He added that through the volunteers they have registered more TB cases and right now they do have 35 cases of TB and these patients are on treatment.
“Kochilira has 25 volunteers and we use these volunteers for TB screening in their respective communities, so if they have patients in their community, they collect sputum and bring it here at the facility for screening and if the patients have TB, we call them for treatment,” said Mumba.
In total Mchinji, district has 41 community sputum collection points and 410 volunteers and at National level NTP has 1400 community sputum collection points and 15,000 volunteers.
Despite the great impact in TB case detection through community sputum collection points, volunteers are facing a lot of challenges such as transport for community volunteers and personal protection equipment.
Mphalasa said the bicycles which volunteers were given way back are now broken and volunteers are struggling a lot, because they have to travel a long distance by foot.
“The volunteers are also lacking some PPEs, you know the work they are doing is very risk they can contract the disease very easily, so to avoid that they need to always wear PPEs whenever they go in the field to collect sputum. But I can say all these problems are being looked into at the National TB program and very soon they will be sorted,” said Mphalasa.