Paris- France (PANA) – An official of the World He-alth Organisation (WHO), Kevin De Cock, declared Thursday in Paris that 60 to 80% of patients affected by tuberculosis in Southern Africa are also HIV- positive.
Speaking in an interview with PANA, De Cock emphasised that joint tuberculosis/HIV/AIDS infection is a major challenge, both for actors in AIDS control and for health systems in Southern African countries.
"The fight against HIV/AIDS must be combined with tuberculosis control in Southern Africa and, generally, on the entire continent.
In Southern Africa where seroprevalence is very high, we also see a strong presence of the ultra resistance form of tuberculosis," observed De Cock, former researcher at the Nairobi-based Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
He insisted on the decisive results of the strategy that associates AIDS Control with tuberculosis control, citing Kenya where he served as a researcher between 2000 and March 2006.
"Kenya systematically lays emphasis on the screening of HIV/AIDS among people affected by tuberculosis.
The country also assures prophylaxis against opportunistic diseases while providing antiretrovirals to Aids patients.
This strategy produces excellent results," he said.
According to him, the weaknesses of the organisation of health care in Africa constitute a factor of the transmission of tuberculosis to HIV-positive patients.
"We have noted that in the case of South Africa the strong concentration of HIV-positive patients in one and the same hospital environment favoured the transmission of the ultra resistance form of tuberculosis.
"We must therefore strengthen the association of the fight against tuberculosis with that against HIV/AIDS, while improving the organisation of health care systems in Africa," De Cock suggested.
The quest for a better articulation between the management of people affected by tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS control is one of the issues addressed at the 37th world conference on respiratory health, which opened Wednesday in Paris.
Some 2,000 participants representing nations, NGOs and international organisations will be brooding until Saturday over the best strategies to treat the different respiratory diseases, including tuberculosis.
Participants at the conference, organised by the International Union against tuberculosis and respiratory diseases, on Wednesday launched an appeal to donors for $95 million for the management in 2007 of ultra resistance tuberculosis cases, especially in Southern Africa.