Balaka District tuberculosis (TB) officer Thomas Bizeki says sensitising communities to the dangers of tuberculosis (TB) in the mines can help reduce TB-related deaths in Malawi.
Speaking recently when the district TB team embarked on a door-to-door information dissemination and TB screening exercise, Bizeki said most of the people engaged in small- scale artisan mining do not know how to prevent the disease.
The screening is being conducted in mining hotspots.
“The number of miners diagnosed with TB keeps rising due to prolonged exposure to fumes and dust. Many miners work without protective wear and that exposes them to TB,” Bizeki said.
Bizeki said 6 00 local leaders and 180 health workers have been oriented in Balaka and 16 miners’ groups established to advocate for TB in mines in the district courtesy of World Bank/Malawi Government Integrated Mining and TB Project.
Balaka district labour officer Edson Luchapa said mining is regarded as a hazardous job and government’s responsibility is to ensure employers meet minimum occupational safety standards.
He said TB in mines is more prevalent in countries where mining is more advanced, but in Malawi with over 10 000 known mining activities, the problem is growing.
The project is being implemented in nine districts, including Nsanje, Balaka, Mzimba and Karonga among with US$17million (K12.4 billion) funding from World Bank. n