Zim heavily burdened by TB: WHO

Zimbabwe remains one of the countries heavily burdened by tuberculosis (TB) despite efforts to combat the pulmonary disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

“Zimbabwe is one of the countries heavily burdened by TB, TB/HIV and Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB),” the WHO said.

“Just over a tenth (11.58%) of the country’s adults are living with HIV and the TB estimated incidence was 193/100,000 people in 2020.

“TB is also primarily an HIV-driven epidemic with TB/HIV co-infection rate in Zimbabwe estimated to be 54% in 2020.”

Health experts called on the government to take necessary steps in the fight against TB including investing resources to prevent its transmission as well as ensuring there is early diagnosis and treatment.

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director Itai Rusike said TB remains a major obstacle to attaining United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) goals on health.

“There is an opportunity to leverage Covid-19 infrastructure and investments to improve the TB response, integrate TB and Covid-19 testing and tracing, and strengthen efforts to overcome the barriers that people continue to face when accessing TB services,” Rusike said.

“It is time for the government of Zimbabwe to fulfill commitments towards defeating TB. The government should engage communities in planning and implementing strong, integrated TB and Covid-19 mitigation and response measures. 

“In addition, there is a need to increase financing for TB prevention and care, innovations in care delivery, and research and development, including for new TB vaccines to prevent the development of Drug Resistant TB.”

Rusike said this will help to protect the lives of thousands of people suffering from TB and to prevent further loss of gains made in the fight against TB.  

The TB bacterium is spread through droplets in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks and exposure to someone with untreated TB increases the chances of infection.

Currently, TB treatment funding is from the government, supported by the Global Fund and other partners.

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