Malawi winning TB fight in mining sector

lDr. Yusuf Mtende of Kamuzu Central Hospital

A Medical Officer at Kamuzu Central Hospital says Malawi is making strides in the fight against Tuberculosis in mining sector as there is a reduction in number of cases that have been identified in mining companies.

Speaking to Malawi24 at one of the mining companies Sovereign Services Limited, Dr. Yusuf Mtende said the country is winning the fight against TB in mines.

“I think we are winning it because we have intensified the diagnosis and we have introduced the mobile vans which goes to the mines and they do the x-rays to the people at the mines. In hospitals, there are other things we have put in place which help to identify TB. We are also using the sputum collection points and we have volunteers who collect the sputum from the people around mining areas and this helps health workers to identify people with TB in mines in an easy way. So, with the measures we have put in place there is indeed a reduction in TB cases at the mines and as a country I think we are doing very well,” said Mtende.

However, Mtende said some people who are suffering from TB are having challenges economically and this is affecting their recovery.

“Some of the challenges are economical and nutritional. When someone has TB he/she can not work in a group of people. So others have lost their jobs, they are just staying at home and they don’t have any source of income. But as a Ministry we have a program on monthly basis where we go and give these people some food which include powered milk, sugar, soya to boost their immunity health,” said Mtende.

In his remarks, Chief Inspector of Explosives at the Ministry of Mining Zutu Liabunya said the ministry has put in place measures to ensure that workers in mines are protected from contracting TB by wearing personal protective equipment.

He added that the Ministry of Mining together with the Ministry of Health and Labour are actively working together to ensure that people in all the mining sites are working in an environment which is good to their health.

“We engage the areas that are actively involved in mining or the communities around the mines, so that they should realise the effects of mining in terms of dust or other diseases.

“So active awareness by the miners and the community themselves has pulled a major part in the reduction of TB in the mines. The other thing is early testing and identification of symptoms of this disease and interventions have also played a larger in the reduction of TB in mines,” said Liabunya.

Liabunya also noted that the Ministry of Mining closes mining companies which are not providing PPEs to their workers and four companies were closed temporarily because they did not provide PPEs to their workers.

Commenting on the same, Head of Occupation Safety and Health at the Ministry of Labour Goodluck Kayange said as a Ministry they do have a department which is solely there to regulate conditions of employment as regards to safety and health in workplace and they are mandated to conduct inspections in these mining companies to ensure that they are meeting the minimum standards required regarding safety and health.

“If they don’t meet these standards they are not allowed to operate in this country and for them to be allowed to operate that’s why there is that requirement that they have to register with the department and we only register them upon satisfying us that they have put in place minimum requirements as regards to safety and health,” said Kayange.