By Michael Gwarisa
HEALTH and child care minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa has applauded Zimbabwe for successfully integrating Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV programs in a bid to curb high mortality amongst HIV patients owing to TB.
TB and HIV have of late been described as Siamese twins owing to the indelible trail of destruction they have left behind.
In an interview with HealthTimes on the sidelines of the ongoing Afro National TB and HIV Programme Managers conference in Harare, minister Parirenyatwa said government had successfully integrated the two deadly diseases in national programs and efforts were under way to increase support towards HIV and TB.
“With Zimbabwe we have gone a long way in trying to integrate the two so that our programs management is really intertwined.
“There is actually a TB and HIV unit in the ministry of health so as you can see we have successfully integrated the two and its already paying results,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
According to statistics, Matebleland South recorded the highest cases and deaths related to TB in 2016, registering not less than 309 deaths. Up to 96 percent of the patients in the region tested HIV positive in the same period with 89 percent being enrolled on Anti Retro Viral drugs (ARVs) and 94 percent testing HIV positive and 90 percent put on ART.
Meanwhile, minister Parirenyatwa welcomed delegates from not less than 25 Sub Saharan African countries gathered in Harare to discuss matters pertaining TB, HIV and AIDS and Hepatitis.
“As you are all aware, TB and HIV/AIDS are serious public health problems in our region. No country is immune to these two epidemics. The significant progress already made in the region and in respective countries bear witness to the effectiveness of these interventions if applied correctly and widely.
“Effective interventions to bring the dual epidemics under control exists and continue to be developed, unfortunately we are no longer fully utilizing them.”
He however added that lack of all-encompassing strategic directions to push forward winning agenda, weak health infrastructure such as laboratory networks, inadequate human resources for health, chronic underfunding of national programmes from national treasuries, weak monitoring and evaluation systems to track the epidemic, weak procurement and supply technologies and interventions continue to to impede progress.
The National TB and HIV Programme Managers conference is running from 19 to 21 September 2017 at Monomotapa Hotel in Harare.