(ERGO) – Somali health officials say hospitals and health centres in Mogadishu have seen a dramatic rise in the number of people suffering from Tuberculosis (TB) over the past few months.
According to Dr Mohamed Abdirahman Omar, head of the TB ward at Banadir hospital, 73 people have been treated in the hospital since May. This compares with 183 people treated there during the whole of last year.
He said most cases were treated as outpatients, whilst 15 patients, including some children, were hospitalized due to the severity of their conditions. TB treatment is provided free of charge by the hospital.
A 22-day old infant baby boy was among those hospitalised after being brought in by his mother. Dr Mohamed said the baby was the youngest TB patient he had ever seen and must have been infected by others living in the neighbourhood.
The baby is receiving drugs by intravenous drip and by adding medicine to bottled milk.
Another mother, Nasro Abshir Mohamed, brought her two-year-old son to hospital on 8 August. He had been coughing for three months, Nasro told Radio Ergo’s reporter, but initially she thought he just had a cold and would recover quickly. However, due to his loss of appetite and weight loss, she finally decided to bring the child to hospital, where he was admitted for two weeks. He will need to continue the medication at home on discharge.
Another TB centre in Mogadishu’s Hamar-jajab district has treated 200 patients in the past three months. The director, Dr Nur Mohamed Abdi, told Radio Ergo that the centre treated 100 TB patients in the whole of 2017. Among the 25 patients seen in the last two weeks, there were 12 children under the age of five.
The health centre attracts many poor people and IDPs from other areas to come there for free services. The doctors often diagnose TB after a patient’s visit for another purpose.
Dr Nur advised people to report suspected cases of TB immediately to the health centre to contain the spread of the disease. Treatment for TB takes many weeks and involves a sustained course of drugs.
Research by the Ministry of Health of the Federal Government of Somalia and the World Health Organization last year reported more than 62,000 people living with TB. The head of the ministry’s Department of Tuberculosis, Dr Abukar Dini, said the ministry is concerned by the high number of cases and is working on creating more awareness about the disease.
Dr Dini said this communicable disease is more common in southern Somalia, especially in urban areas due to high population density where it spreads widely.
Doctors say there has been little awareness raising over the importance of the TB vaccination for children.