Zim Needs Homegrown TB Research-MoHCC

ZIMBABWE should stop relying on foreign research and methods around Tuberculosis if it is develop capacity to deal with emerging new threats.

By Patricia Mashiri

Speaking during a virtual TB opening day, Dr Charles Sandy, the National TB Programme Manager in the Ministry of Health and Child said they were gaps in research and technologies that needed only to be addressed using homegrown solutions.

It is very important for us to have a very strong background in our policy making research which s informed by local data, local analysis as well as identifying what works best in our context. Recently we have developed our National TB strategic plan (TB NSP) which will run from 2021 to 2025 to guide the country’s TB response.

“The TB NSP’s main objective is to promote access to high quality patient centred TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment services for all Zimbabweans with all forms of TB in line with the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goals,” said Dr Sandy.

He added that research must be informed by local data, analysis and buttressed by what works best in our context.

“Where we have research that has been done and the findings not shared, 
it is akin to wastage of resources which is why programmes such as this are so important. We have identified some key programmatic gaps.

“All these knowledge gaps require us as Ministry of Health and implementing partners academia and research institutions to generate research which can effectively address the gaps affecting the programs. Tb Research agenda was developed and we will be sharing it soon.”

Meanwhile, in his key note address Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Mageto, represented by CHANS Dean Proffessor Sungano Mharakurwa, Africa University said the University’s contribution to the MoHCC will help transform the nation in the fight against TB.

“Africa University is extremely proud to be part of the national TB research Working Group whose work over the past few months has culminated in this occasion. As Africa University we are willing to play our part in this collaborative effort to reduce the spread of TB which is preventable and curable. Our vision as a nation is to create a TB- free Zimbabwe, a vision which dovetails with regional and international agenda in creating health communities.

“The MoHCC and our development partners have come a long way in this fight. The incidence rate declined from 242 per 100,000 in 2015 to a rate of 199 per 100,000 from 2019, signalling positive strides towards ending TB. More however needs to be done. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic where we have noticed reductions in adherence to medications.”

Professor Mharakurwa added that there are areas where more research is needed so as to have policies that are transformative.

“We must increase our capacity and close knowledge gaps in the transmission rates on TB among children, improve our ability to efficiently detect and diagnose infection among migrants, artisanal miners and vulnerable adult populations, analyse and identify the root cause of negative drug outcomes and better understand transmission between communities,” Proff Mharakurwa said.

The National HIV survey (ZIMPHIA 2020) shows that the country’s TB infections are high in those living with HIV/AIDS. It noted that 1,23 million adults in 2020 with HIV prevalence higher among women (15.3%) than men (10.3%).

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