Zim First Lady Appoints TB Champions

FIRST Lady, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa has appointed 21 Tuberculosis (TB) Champions with the aim of raising awareness of matters to do with TB in communities and  grassroots level.

By Michael Gwarisa

Officiating at the launch, Amai Mnangagwa said the TB champions initiative was among some of the partnerships government  was exploring to improve the country’s health systems.

These partnerships should aim to contribute towards improved knowledge and awareness of the 2 related conditions as well as ensuring universal access to high quality services for both conditions. As Health Ambassador I have been working with several partners across the country to help curb this virus while making sure that vulnerable and marginalised communities are well taken care of.

“The fight against COVID-19 pandemic, should not lead us forget and leave other priority health issues behind such as TB.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Today we embark on a journey to work together with celebrities and influential people in the fight against tuberculosis (TB). It is indeed a historic day in our country as we officially appoint TB Champions for Zimbabwe,” said the First lady.

She added that the Champions were drawn from various sectors and will each contribute from their core competencies, skills and talents to form One face, One Voice and One Goal to end TB.

“This is in line with the Stop TB Partnership Zimbabwe mandate to coordinate various partners to work together with the Ministry of Health and Child Care through the National TB Program to maximize efficiency and effectiveness of efforts towards ending TB in Zimbabwe. Stop TB Partnership Zimbabwe is one of many other country-level partnerships mirroring the global Stop TB Partnership in Geneva.

“I would like to therefore thank Stop TB Partnership Geneva office for the financial and technical support throughout the establishment and development of Zimbabwe’s country level partnership. The formation of this partnership was initially made possible with support from Global Fund and WHO and USAID’s Challenge TB project under The Union and WHO-Zimbabwe. Thank you for the support and for being part of this visionary work which led to the birth of Zimbabwe’s country-level Stop TB Partnership.”

Stop TB Partnership Zimbabwe brings together actors from different sectors of society across the country on a common platform towards supporting and strengthening the TB response. The partnership is comprised of (but not limited to) the private sector, civil society, development actors, celebrities, Parliamentarians, journalists, TB champions, the academia, traditional leaders among others.

“All partners contribute from their core competencies, and collectively catalyse an innovative approach towards ending TB in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has made great strides in its efforts to end TB. The recent Global TB report states that our treatment coverage has improved to 83%. More partners have over the last years come on board to contribute towards achieving a Zimbabwe free of TB. However, a lot still needs to be done if we are to reach the 2030/2035 target of ending TB.

“Our country still remains among the top 30 countries worldwide with a high TB burden. Furthermore, it is among the top 8 countries in Africa with a triple burden of TB, TB/HIV and Multi Drug Resistant-TB.

“Given this background, there is therefore need for collaboration and coordination of efforts to scale-up the country’s response to TB in the general population. This will ensure we end stigma and discrimination against TB while enhancing access to information and services especially for hard to reach, at high risk and marginalized communities.”

Meanwhile, Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Obadiah Moyo said TB Champions would close the TB information gap at community level.

“Globally nearly 10 million people get sick with TB each year and the disease is the number one cause of mortality amongst all infectious conditions and for People Living with HIV. However, despite the best efforts of many individuals and organizations to raise awareness on TB, it remains an invisible disease.

“TB is widely and mistakenly considered a disease of the past-even though it is still a global pandemic claiming millions of lives every year. This is partly because of lack of awareness, stigma associated with disease especially with HIV and its strong association with poverty and malnutrition. To close the knowledge awareness gap, the community needs the support of TB Champions, who with their voice can raise public awareness on TB and increase advocacy efforts for decision makers to increase investment is social services (education, health, housing, food security).”

Last year Zimbabwe launched Stop TB Partnership Zimbabwe which is one of many other country-level partnerships under the Global Stop TB Partnership. The partnership brings together actors from different sectors of society across the country with the aim of coordinating efforts to end TB. Today we mark another milestone as we witness the appointment of TB Champions.

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