‘Focused treatment key to ending TB’ 

Source: ‘Focused treatment key to ending TB’ –Newsday Zimbabwe

In a belated statement to mark the World TB Day which is recognised annually on March 24, Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said TB was a public health threat.

THERE is a need to scale up the fight against tuberculosis (TB) which remains a threat to development globally, health experts have said.

In a belated statement to mark the World TB Day which is recognised annually on March 24, Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said TB was a public health threat.

“We must bring focused testing, treatment and care services to the people who most need them,” he said.

“When we fight TB, we fight other deadly diseases and prepare for the next pandemic.

“The same lab(oratory) workers, diagnostic machines, supply chains, primary healthcare facilities, disease surveillance capabilities and community health workers that fight TB prepare the world for future health threats.”

TB remains a public health emergency, with 30 000 people falling ill, and more than 4 000 lives being lost each day globally, despite it being both preventable and curable. In 2022, TB killed 1,3 million people.

“This is unacceptable,” Rusike said.

“We know how to end TB. We have the lifesaving tools to prevent, diagnose and treat TB, but we must break down the barriers and inequities that cause millions of people to suffer and die from TB every year.”

He said inequities and discrimination militated against the fight against TB.

“Inequity is the biggest barrier to ending TB,” Rusike said.

“Often those living in poverty or with environmental risk factors can face catastrophic costs to access diagnosis and treatment.”

Health and Child Care deputy minister Sleiman Kwidini said TB was curable and could be eradicated through early treatment and adherence to medication.

The World Health Organisation said over 33% of TB deaths occurred in Africa.

In Zimbabwe, an estimated 29 945 people developed active TB in 2021 and only 16 541 were diagnosed and put on treatment.

According to experts, a significant number of people are not getting the treatment they need and deserve.

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