By Wadzanai Mhute
Gold and diamonds miners in sub-Saharan Africa are more at risk of tuberculosis.
According to Science News, researchers at five universities including Oxford and Brown universities studied the epidemic’s spread. The report, published in the American Journal of Public Health, stated that poor living conditions, dust in mines, the spread of HIV and constant travel maybe factors that are driving the 760 000 new cases every year. Miners typically travel many times a year to countries such as mineral rich South Africa. This constant movement results in lack of continuity of care even when diagnosed. Miners in turn pass on tuberculosis to their family members. Improving working conditions and routine screening would reduce the increase in the epidemic and its resultant spread to miners’ communities.
According to their report:
Men travelling from afar to work in mines, such as from Botswana to South Africa, are at the greatest risk of getting tuberculosis. But their wives, children, and friends are also at high risk when miners travel back and forth to work, often many times a year.
This means that even if mining clinics successfully diagnose tuberculosis in miners and start treatment appropriately, the message is often not relayed back to doctors who work at the miners’ hometowns. The authors suggest that this disruption of treatment poses a major threat of developing a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis.