International medical humanitarian organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), yesterday handed over a consignment of TB medication to the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) in a bid to lessen the burden caused by the disease.
Zimbabwe was among the top eight African countries in the World’s top 30 countries heavily burdened by TB, TB/HIV and multi-drug resistant TB with the most affected groups being women in the reproductive age group (15 years to 44 years) and men.
MSF country representative Dr Reinaldo Ortuno said the donation was part of MSF’s contribution to ending TB in Zimbabwe.
“We are happy that Zimbabwe continues to make huge strides in containing and raising awareness on TB, and we congratulate the country for its removal from the list of countries with a high TB burden,” he said.
The TB drugs donated include first-line treatment for drug sensitive TB and treatment for drug-resistant TB (DR).
For 11 years until 2017, MSF provided quality HIV/TB/DR-TB treatment, care and support to Zimbabwe and in 2018, MSF in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) supported the successful pilot of the short regimen treatment with injectable for DR-TB in Mutare.“Despite that we handed over these successful projects on HIV/TB/ DR-TB, we have continued to provide support and resources to MoHCC and this donation is part of that. We continue to work with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to provide health care, especially to vulnerable communities. MSF believes that health is a human right and that every person should have access to health services and medicines when they are in need,” said Dr Ortuno.
In March, Vice President and Minister of Health Dr Constantino Chiwenga said the Government had made significant progress in reducing the TB incidence rate from 242 per 100 000 in 2015 to a rate of 199 per 100 000 in 2019.
He encouraged collaboration between HIV and TB health service provision continued to be of importance as the country’s TB epidemic is largely HIV-driven.
However, Zimbabwe is still highly burdened by TB/HIV and multi-drug resistant TB.
The WHO list provides a focus for global action on TB, HIV-associated TB and drug-resistant TB in the countries where progress is most needed to achieve the targets set in End TB Strategy, the political declaration of the United Nations (UN) high-level meeting on TB held in 2018 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
They also help to build and sustain national political commitment and funding in the countries with the highest burden in terms of absolute numbers or severity and promote global monitoring of progress in a well-defined set of countries.