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Fiskere ved Zanzibar, ved kysten av Tanzania
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Finding the missing people with TB

The members of the patient organization Mukikute make a great effort to find people with tuberculosis in Tanzania. In 2020 alone, they identified nearly 56,000 people with possible tuberculosis, and helped them test for the disease.

Mukikute makes an extra effort to reach out to particularly vulnerable and vulnerable groups who have limited access to health services. An example is fishermen. The fishermen are out fishing for longer periods, weeks and sometimes months, and live on islands out in the sea far from the mainland. Because they are difficult to reach and difficult to follow up through tuberculosis treatment, they are defined among the key vulnerable groups in Tanzania. The fishermen are mostly men, but often have a girlfriend or wife and children with them.

There is a lot of tuberculosis among fishermen in Tanzania, compared to the rest of the country. On Msilo Island, Mukikute checked 3260 people for tuberculosis, and they took samples from 814 people back to the regional hospital in Kagera. 30 people - 10 men and 20 women - had tuberculosis and were put on treatment. Two were children. This indicates a prevalence which is  3 times higher than the general population in the country. In total in 2020, Mukikute found 464 people with tuberculosis in the fishing communities around the lakes in the northwest of the country.

In addition to finding new cases of tuberculosis, Mukikute's members also do another important job with the fishermen. They make sure that those on treatment are able to take medication every day for at least six months. At Msilo Island, they helped five people who had interrupted treatment. The members have learned good communication skills and managed to motivate the fishermen to continue the treatment until they were completely healthy.

The job that Mukikute does is very important. A person with untreated tuberculosis can infect 10-15 other people during a year, so helping vulnerable groups to reach health care services when having symptoms of tuberculosis is a huge contribution to stopping the tuberculosis epidemic.