Today Zimbabwe joins the world to commemorate World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, an opportunity to take stock of global efforts to end TB by 2030. This year’s theme, ‘Yes we can end TB’ recognizes our shared resolve to harness high-level leadership for increased investment, adoption of innovations, and multisectoral collaboration to combat this important epidemic. This year’s TB Day is even more critical, as a platform to raise awareness and garner the much-needed political commitment to step up the fight, ahead of the 2023 UN High-Level Meeting on TB, slated for September.
TB remains a public health emergency, with 30,000 people falling ill, and more 4,000 lives lost each day globally, despite it being both preventable and curable. In Zimbabwe, 16,300 TB cases were notified in 2021, from an estimated 30,000 incident cases, translating to a treatment coverage of 54%.
While the country has made remarkable progress to curtail the burden of disease, and now removed from the list of top 30 high burden countries for TB, on account of sustained investments to strengthen the National TB Control Programme and a successful anti-retroviral programme, the country still grapples with close to 14,000 missed cases annually, and a disproportionate burden of TB-HIV and drug-resistant TB. In addition, over 80% of TB patients experience substantial high out of pocket costs and indirect costs such as income loss, when accessing services, an important barrier to life saving treatment. Furthermore, finding TB in children remains elusive, with notifications in 2021 accounting for 5% of total notifications, against an annual global achievement of 10-12%. The situation has been compounded by the disruptive impact from COVID-19 in recent years, albeit with signs of recovery as noted in 2021.
“Our shared aspiration to end TB is a real possibility, if only we harness our collective resolve to do more with less, targeting the finite resources more intelligently, to innovations with potential for greatest impact” said Dr Ronald Thulani Ncube, Executive Director, The Union Zimbabwe Trust.
To consolidate our gains and address the lingering gaps, continued investment towards ending TB remains a priority, from both domestic sources and donor funding, to bridge the funding gap in the current national strategy of USD$62,6 million. Multi-stakeholder collaboration remains a critical enabler, building on the platform of the recently launched multisectoral accountability framework for TB (MAF-TB).
This World TB Day, the World Health Organisation and Union Zimbabwe Trust (UZT) call on government, communities, civil society organizations, health-care providers, national and international partners to remain a united force, leaving no one behind, to ensure an equitable, rights-based and people-centered national response.
“Ending TB is very possible but there is need for government and partners to commit more financial resources to address the current funding gaps and deliver quality TB services for everyone in need, particularly the most vulnerable,” said Professor Jean-Marie Dangou, WHO Representative in Zimbabwe.
We recognize the unflinching support, both financial and technical to the national response, from our funding and technical partners such as the Global Fund, WHO, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Stop TB Partnership, and many others, and implore new partners to join the fight, towards ending TB by 2030.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organzation (WHO) – Zimbabwe.