Africa Haunted By High TB Burden

The African Region has made good progress in controlling Tuberculosis (TB) though it still has the world’s highest levels of the disease, World Health Oorganisation (WHO) Zimbabwe Country Office Medical Officer in Charge, Dr Julie Nabyonga has said.

Speaking at the TB Day Commemorations in Harare on Saturday, Nabyonga said Africa still records the most patients infected with both HIV and TB, calling on the Government of Zimbabwe and community leaders to play a lead role in raising awareness on the epidemic.

“We have the most patients infected with both HIV and TB, and we are seeing alarming increases in the forms of TB that resist treatment with common medicines. Finally, governments are contributing only a quarter of the resources needed to provide adequate TB services, and 40% of needs remain unfunded,

“A TB free world will only be achieved through leaders who champion efforts to end TB at local level, leaders have tremendous influence to build strong partnerships and commitment to end the TB epidemic at every level,

“The Zimbabwean government and parliament have provided exemplary leadership in the fight against TB and I would like to urge them to keep driving ambitious plans that will accelerate TB control at national level,

“I strongly urge the government of Zimbabwe to scale up domestic funding for TB control and take responsibility for essential medicines and laboratory supplies,” said Nabyonga,

Officiating at the commemorations, Health and Child Care Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa said Zimbabwe has made great strides in reducing the number of TB cases and a rapid scale up of new diagnostic technologies resulting in quick diagnosis and treatment.

“In Zimbabwe we have made great strides in combating TB, estimated TB incidence declined to 208 per 100,000 in 2016 as compared to a peak of 617 per 100,000 in 2003 and a rate of 242 per 100,000 in 2015,

“Out of the 28,225 cases diagnosed in 2015 81% were successfully treated and this has remained the same rate compared to 2014 versus our target of 90%. This is mainly due to a high proportion of 10% of people dying whilst on treatment, with the most affected provinces being Matebeleland South, Matebeleland North, Midlands and Bulawayo which were averaging 15%,

“There has been a rapid scale up of new diagnostic technologies such as the Xpert MTB/Rif Assay, Line Probe Assay and Digital Radiology, resulting in prompt diagnosis and treatment of TB and Drug Resistant TB, to date there are 129 GeneXpert machines in the country and 3 line Probe Assay machines,

“The results of the Zimbabwe Drug Resistant Survey of 2015 showed that the burden of Drug Resistant TB IS 4.2% and 14.2% among new and retreatment cases respectively, there is an apparent upsurge of drug resistant TB (DR-TB) mainly due to an improvement in access to diagnosis,” said Parirenyatwa.

He acknowledged support received from policy makers and various organizations in the fight against TB over the years saying it has been key in reducing TB infection rate in the country.

 

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