Tuberculosis outbreaks in Africa associated with effects of HIV/AIDS, poverty

Luis Gomes Sambo, the director for Africa at the World Health Organization, said the rise of tuberculosis cases in Africa can be attributed to poverty and the effects of HIV/AIDS, which weakens the normal immune response.

Data from the world report on tuberculosis revealed that, in 2011, about 46 percent of people who acquired tuberculosis were also HIV/AIDS patients, allAfrica reports.

According to Doctors Without Borders, which is known as MSF, TB deaths in southern Africa account for 40 percent of all TB deaths worldwide, and the disease is the leading cause of death for HIV patients, according to Voice of America.

Health officials from Swaziland and South Africa recently held a press conference regarding the diagnosis and treatment of the TB/HIV co-epidemic in their countries. Marc Gastellu Etchegorry, MSF's international medical secretary, said the effort to address the TB/HIV co-endemic is especially crucial for southern Africa.

"It is a priority because we have a lot of cases by now, and TB is a very good illustration of that," Gastellu Etchegorry said, Voice of America reports. "But one of the problems is that the patients have difficulties in accessing the treatment. And as we have a lot of people who are moving from one place to another, or one country to another, it is really important to find a new means to deliver the treatment to them."

Gastellu Etchegorry stressed the importance of building health facilities that are able to diagnose both TB and HIV.

"We have to be on the spot where patients are," Gastellu Etchegorry said, according to Voice of America.