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The prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis among miners from the Karonga, Rumphi, Kasungu and Lilongwe Districts of Malawi in 2019

Ethel Rambiki
Andrew Dimba
Wingston Ng’ambi
Knox Banda
Belaineh Girma
Birru Shight
Levi Lwanda
Levi Lwanda
Isaias Dambe
Jaya Prasad Tripathy
Mumbi Chola
Pascalina Chanda -Kapata
James Mpunga
Damson Kathyola



Miners in sub-Saharan Africa have a greater risk of tuberculosis (TB) than any other working population in the world. In spite of the presence of large and vulnerable population of miners in Malawi, no previous study has aimed to assess the burden of TB among these miners. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) and health-seeking behaviour (HSB) in a population of miners in Malawi, and a range of associated factors. Our goal was to develop a method to identify missing cases of TB.
We conducted a cross-sectional study in the Karonga, Rumphi, Kasungu and Lilongwe districts of Malawi in 2019. We calculated frequencies, proportions, odds ratios (ORs) and their 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs), and used the chi-square test in STATA version15.1 to investigate the burden and magnitude of PTB in the mining sector. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression models were also fitted for PTB and HSB.
Of the 2400 miners approached, we were able to interview 2013 (84%). Of these, 1435 (71%) were males, 1438 (71%) had known HIV status and 272 (14%) had PTB. Multivariate analysis showed that the miners performing informal mining were 50% more likely to develop PTB compared with those in formal mining (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=1.50, 95% CI: 1.10–2.05, P=0.01). A total of 459 (23% of 2013) miners had presumptive TB. Of these, 120 (26%) sought health care; 80% sought health care at health facilities. Multivariate analysis also showed that miners who experienced night sweats were less likely to seek health care compared with those without night sweats (AOR=0.52, 95% CI: 0.30–0.90, P=0.02).
The prevalence of PTB was higher among miners than in the general population. Consequently, targeted TB screening programmes for miners may represent a suitable strategy to adopt if we are to end TB by 2030. Poor health-seeking behaviours among miners is worrisome and further qualitative research is necessary to understand the barriers to accessing health care in these settings.


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eISSN: 1995-7262
print ISSN: 1995-7270