By Precious Moyo
The government of Zimbabwe has introduced mobile tuberculosis (TB) screening services to rural areas that have been identified as TB burdened after noting that such communities experience challenges in accessing health services.
Previously TB screening has been done at health centres only and some people especially in rural areas failed to access health services due to catastrophic costs incurred.
Amakhosikazi media caught up with the Targeted Screening for TB programme manager in Tshitshi area in Plumtree where villagers were being screened for free.
In an interview, the programme manager, Dr Vimbai Mandizvidza said government availed four trucks to work countrywide with one already operating in Matabeleland South province which was identified as one of the TB burdened provinces.
“Matabeleland South constitutes 19 percent of TB deaths and it needs urgent action. We are targeting old people, below fives, people living with HIV/AIDS, miners and ex-miners. These are risky groups with high chances of contracting TB,” she said.
Community members have a chance to get tested of HIV/AIDS as well diabetes during the screening session.
“TB and HIV/AIDS are usually married so when a patient is diagonised of HIV/AIDS, before we do TB testing we provide them with counseling. We have counselors among us,” said Dr Mandizvidza.
She said the trucks have laboratories where tests are being done and patients who are diagonised with TB are referred to their local clinics for treatment.
“This at least lessens the burden of travelling to a hospital for screening. Many patients suffer while at home because they won’t be affording transport,” she said.
Dr Mandizvidza encouraged people to be screened against TB.
Amakhosikazi media observed that from morning to midday during screening, the majority of people who were attended to were women.
In separate interview with them, women applauded Government’s effort to bring TB screening home saying they experienced costs in accessing health facilities.
“Accessing TB treatment has always been said to be free but to us it has never been like that. Imagine l stay here in Mzila and l had to travel to Plumtree town for screening. Most of the time we could not access health services because of travelling expenses.”
“We want to thank government for having us in mind and ensuring that we are also catered for. Now l am able to bring even my children for screening,” said Mrs Rebecca Ncube from Mzila village in Tshitshi community.
Mrs Miriam Tshuma from the same community said the mobile clinic has allowed them to get treatment including HIV/AIDS, TB and diabetes testing without much cost.
“This has relieved us so much considering that us women are usually burdened with hospital bills when children get sick. It also good to know your health status,” she said.
The mobile clinic is expected to go to Matobo.