Zim Launches Country Level Partnership To End TB

STOP TB partnership, an initiative meant to scale up Tuberculosis (TB) case finding and treatment in various communities which include high TB burden settings such as mining communities, closed communities amongst others has been launched in Zimbabwe.

By Michael Gwarisa

Officially launching the partnership this morning (24/11/19) on behalf of the First Lady Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said the Stop TB partnership had come at the right time for Zimbabwe as the country was already scaling TB identification and treatment in communities.

Today marks a historic moment in our country as we officially launch a country level Stop TB partnership for Zimbabwe. The partnership was formed in response to various interest by partners to work together with the ministry of health and child care (MoHCC) through the national TB program to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of efforts towards ending TB in Zimbabwe.

“Stop TB partnership in Zimbabwe is one of the many other country level partnerships under the Global Stop TB partnership. The formation of this partnership was initially made possible with support from global fund and World Health Organisation (WHO) and USAID Challenge TB project under The Union and WHO Zimbabwe,” said Dr Moyo.

He added that the partnership brings together actors from various sectors of society towards supporting and strengthening the TB response. The partnership is comprised of but not limited to the private sector, civil society developing actors, celebrities, journalists, parliamentarians, TB Champions, Academia, traditional leaders among others.

The stop TB partnership is a global movement meant to push TB up the political agenda and was established in 2001 to eliminate tuberculosis as a public health problem. The secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland and, since 2015, has been administered by UNOPS.

In Zimbabwe the Stop TB partnership program is being implemented by Jointed Hands Welfare organisation (JHWO) a local Non-Governmental Organisation spearheading TB interventions in various communities including prisons, schools and other vulnerable communities.

The partnership launch also coincided with the launch of the TB in the Mining Sector program (TIMS) which will work towards eliminating TB in mining communities as well as scale up tracking and treating of TB in ex miners, their families and artisanal miners.

“The incidence of TB in the mining sector in Southern Africa is 10 times the WHO threshold for a health emergency, nearly three times the incidence rate in the general population.

“Collaboration between the World Bank and Southern African governments, Zimbabwe included, culminated in the signing of the SADC declaration on TB in mining sector by 15 heads of state, a landmark solution to crisis that plagued the region for a century,” said Dr Moyo.

The TIMS program emerged from a need for a regionally coordinated response to the issue of TB and related illnesses among mine workers, ex mine workers and their families communities in Southern Africa. The main goal of the TIMS grant is to contribute towards the reduction of the TB burden in mining mining sector in southern Africa.

Global Stop TB partnership representative, Thandi Kathlolo said TB is a social cultural, economic and political disease and needs the Stop TB partnership to engage partners and mobilise resources in the fight against TB.

“TB remains the world’s biggest infectious killer, with about 1.5 million people having died of TB in 2018, TB alone kills people more than HIV and Malaria combined according to the 2019 TB report. The progress in reducing TB has been frustrating in terms of numbers and services provided to people.

“Governments in about 10 SADC countries have signed a political declaration to end TB and address the issues within the mining sector in 2012. It is now in November 2019 where I just see an engagement of an association of people affected by TB in the mining sector. We would like to advocate for development of solutions that will engage people affected by TB in the future,” she said.

She added that funding for TB was largely dependent on donors and this was a dangerous scenario and governments need to develop domestic financing solutions to TB.

Stop TB Partnership Zimbabwe Chairperson, Mr Ronald Rungoyi said Zimbabwe needed to knock out TB to ensure it does not come back to haunt the nation.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director AIDS and TB in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Charles Sandy said Zimbabwe was among the 30 high burden countries for TB and HIV as well as drug resistant TB.

“Over the years, we have done a number of initiatives to address TB and these have culminated in the reduction of the number of persons that we see annually. The cases picked in the year 2000 and from there onwards, we see a continued decline in the notifications which means as a country we are making a lot of progress and we have been adopting the international best practice guidelines which come from the WHO.

“We measure our efforts in terms of impact indicators. We are seeing a rapid decline in the number of new cases and that of the incidence. The average incidence decline in the past five years has been in the range of 5 to 10 percent due to improvement in diagnostic access and continued capacitation of healthcare workers and attaining of Universal ART coverage (UAC),” said Dr Sandy.

He added that government’s main focus at the moment was to find and treat TB early in order to reduce the burden and increase survival and treatment success among TB clients.

“Zimbabwe is among the few countries which have actually managed to reach 80 percent treatment coverage and this has an impact in terms of continuing the decline of TB. Once you find a TB case and you put that person on treatment, you are actually cutting the chain of transmission.

“We are also focusing on Drug Resistant TB (DRTB) as well as enhancing TB and HIV collaborative activities. We are changing our focus in terms of how we support our patients, we want patients to have the best for themselves and the best for ourselves and mutually agree on patient centered approach for TB.”

He however bemoaned the poor diagnosis and identification of TB in children and called on innovators to increase efforts along paediatric TB diagnosis.

 

 

 

 

 

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