FIRST Lady Amai Mnangagwa on Saturday launched the Stop TB Partnership Zimbabwe which is aimed at scaling up TB services as the country works on achieving the 2030 target of ending TB.
Speaking on behalf of Amai Mnangagwa during the launch on Saturday, Minster of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo said the platform was an opportunity to foster high level advocacy for resource mobilisation and policy change.
“Today (Saturday) we mark a historic day in our country as we launch the Stop TB Partnership for Zimbabwe.“The partnership was formed in response to various interests by partners to work together with the Ministry of Health and Child Care through the national TB program in maximising efficiency and effectiveness of efforts towards ending TB in Zimbabwe.
“Stop TB Partnership Zimbabwe is one of many other level country partnerships under the global Stop TB partnerships and many thanks to the Union, USAID and WHO for the support and being part of this visionary work which led to the birth of Zimbabwe’s Stop TB Partnership,” he said.
“The incidence of TB in the mining sector in Southern Africa is nearly three times the incidence rate in the general population.
“Collaboration between the World Bank and Southern Africa Governments, Zimbabwe included culminated in the signing of SADC declaration on TB in mining sector by 15 heads of state, a landmark to crisis plagued the region for century,” he said. Speaking at the same event, WHO national professional officer tuberculosis Mkhokheli Ngwenya said there was need to recognise mine workers and their families as a special high risk population that requires targeted TB services.
“Mine workers are particularly susceptible to occupational lung diseases including TB infection with an incidence of TB three to four times of that general population and it is estimated that 89 percent of mine workers have latent TB infection.
“In Zimbabwe the project is implemented by Bekezela Home Based Care, Jointed Hands Welfare Organisation (JHWO), and Ex-wenela Miners to ensure no one is left behind,” he said.
Stop TB Partnership Geneva representative Dr Thandi Katlholo said launching this partnership shows the highest level of political will and commitment by Zimbabwe to end the TB epidemic.
“We acknowledge this launch as one of the remarkable progress by the Zimbabwean Government.
“As the Global TB landscape continues to evolve, we recognize that TB is a social cultural, economic, and political disease therefore this prompts the need for National Stop Tb partnerships to provide platforms to engage different actors in TB prevention and care,” she said. The Stop TB Partnership is a UN hosted organization, founded in 2001 which aims at bringing together expertise of a shared mission to revolutionise the TB space and end TB by 2030.”
In Zimbabwe, the Stop TB program is being implemented by a local non-governmental organisation ‘Jointed Hands Welfare Organisation’ which is heading TB interventions mainly in high TB burden areas such as mining communities among others.
This also saw the launch of the Tuberculosis in the Mining Sector (TIMS) which will work towards eliminating TB in targeted districts such as Kwekwe, Mazoe, Sanyati, Shurugwi and Hurungwe.
In her opening remarks, the Stop TB Partnership treasurer Mirirai Nsingo called on Zimbabwe to strengthen domestic funding so that they do not continue to rely on donor funding.
She also noted with concern how the prevailing socio-economic conditions can derail the gains the country has made in fighting TB.
According to the 2019 Global TB report, Zimbabwe has been making progress to end TB.
The country is one of the four high burden TB countries that managed to achieve treatment rates above 80 percent reaching 25 775 people.
The report also noted that the country is among the seven high burden countries that are on track to achieve the 2020 Global End TB Strategy milestones for reduction in TB incidence rate and TB deaths.