Author(s): Mutava, E., Singh, T., Brouwer, D.

Source: Occup Health Southern Afr. 2023; 29(3):132-136


Background: South Africa’s overburdened healthcare systems have led to criticism of its unsustainable tuberculosis management interventions. In 2011, the National Department of Health implemented an outpatient, decentralised care model, but this increased costs and jeopardised the long-term viability of prevention measures. Home confinement is now recognised as a viable intervention option, when combined with safety precautions such as ventilation and medical support. However, little is known about the risk of infection in this context.

Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of wind-driven roof turbines in enhancing ventilation and their potential to lower the risk of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in a residential setting.

Methods: Eight houses were selected and divided equally into intervention (wind turbines installed) and control groups, using a pairwise comparison method. The CO 2 decay method was used as a proxy to determine ventilation in the houses. The wind-driven roof turbines’ potential to lower the risk of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection was stochastically evaluated using the Wells-Riley mathematical model.

Results: During two seasons, installation of a roof turbine resulted in twofold ventilation rates compared to the control houses. Consequently, the Wells-Riley model predicted a twofold reduction in the probability of infection in the intervention compared to the control households.

Conclusion: Low-cost, low-maintenance wind-driven roof turbines are effective in increasing ventilation in houses, and should be considered as an additional layer of protection against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and other infections in residential settings.