A recent Management Sciences for Health (MSH) study conducted with mental health patients in Afghanistan revealed that people being treated for mental illness were almost 20 times more likely to have tuberculosis (TB) than the general population.
Years of conflict, poverty, stress, and illicit drug use have led to Afghanistan’s high rates of mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies have shown depression and anxiety rates as high as 72% and 85%, respectively, among Afghan adults. Afghanistan’s high incidence of TB is similarly linked to high rates of poverty and illegal drug use. Both TB and mental disorders may also be associated with poor nutrition, inadequate housing, and other manifestations of poverty.
The MSH study, which screened 8,073 patients at six mental health facilities (five public and one private) in Herat, Jalalabad, Kabul, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif provinces found that 3.4% of patients suffered from TB. The incidence rate among Afghanistan’s general population is 189 per 100,000 people.