WHO scales up TB preventive therapy

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has scaled up its support for Tuberculosis (TB) preventive therapy in Zimbabwe through the introduction of a TB mobile application aimed at easing the burden of TB screening.

The latest WHO report said The Prevent TB App is set to be a game changer as it will improve the contact tracing process as well as increase TPT uptake.

“The Ministry of Health with support from Jointed Hands Welfare Organization, The Union Zimbabwe Trust (UZT) and WHO recently conducted a WHO Prevent TB Application training for the pilot districts with a high prevalence of TB namely Gwanda and Insiza District (Matabeleland South Province) and Gweru District (Midlands Province) in Bulawayo. Health workers from the pilot districts were trained on using the WHO Prevent TB Application including developing the roll-out and monitoring plan,” the report noted.

WHO further noted that the mobile app will allow registration, screening, and referral of people targeted for TB screening or TB preventive treatment.

“Alerts help the providers to follow up people through the preventive care pathway. Traditionally, TB contact tracing is done by Environmental Health Technicians (EHTs).

“With the introduction of the WHO Prevent TB Application and hybrid TB contact tracing will now include community nurses and village health workers. A great milestone for Zimbabwe as more people will be reached.”

WHO also said the app will allow health practitioners to move away from the paper-based reporting system allowing efficient data analysis, which will provide real live data.

“Interventions will be more timeously as paper-based reporting are done quarterly and it takes longer for patients to be put on TPT,” the report read.

“Treating those with TB successfully and preventing other people from developing TB remains the most important intervention in ending TB in Zimbabwe. WHO remains committed to support the eight districts including the pilot districts which have poor TB outcomes through contact tracing and linking them to care on time.”

Statistics by WHO indicate that Zimbabwe experienced a decrease in TB Preventive Therapy (TPT) coverage from 39% in 2020 to 17% in 2021. 

The decrease has been a result of missed opportunities in TB contact tracing which helps to identify individuals at risk of TB infection in the community, and quickly commence them on TPT. 

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