40 percent of TB patients in Zimbabwe unaware of their status

Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, [email protected]

MORE than 40 percent of TB patients do not know their status in Zimbabwe as the country continues its fight against the disease which remains a threat even in other parts of the world.

Zimbabwe is still part of the 30 high burden countries and drug-resistant TB remains a threat to achieving set goals towards eradicating the disease.

 The Union TB Trust executive director Dr Ronald Ncube said partnerships with the Ministry of Health and Child Care had resulted in the training of community workers who played a key role in screening TB countrywide.

He said to date there were 1 000 community health workers who are going around communities mobilizing members of the public to get screened and also referring anyone with symptoms to clinics for early treatment.

“As Union Zimbabwe Trust we have different programmes like Kunda Nqobi TB that have been implemented after we got US$15 million to help the Ministry in the fight against TB. We wish to extend our gratitude to community health workers as we have a network of almost 1000 workers who educate communities, refer those with symptoms to clinics and do much of mobilizing to ensure everyone knows about the disease,” said Dr Ncube.

“As a country, we have yearly targets that we set in line with WHO and in 2022 it was estimated that we have over 30 000 people with TB  but we managed to find over 18 000 and we need to screen and put them into treatment. This means we have another 15 000 or so people yet to be screened and put on treatment which means work must be done in our communities to ensure everyone with TB starts treatment.”

The Community Working Group on Health director Mr Itai Rusike said although TB is one of the world’s leading Infectious disease killers, Zimbabwe has the lifesaving tools to prevent,  diagnose, and treat TB.

He said breaking down barriers and inequities that cause millions of people to suffer and die from TB every year will help the country continue posting more wins in the fight.

“Inequity is the biggest barrier to ending TB, often those living in poverty or with environmental risk factors, can face catastrophic costs to access diagnosis and treatment. Scaling up progress in the fight against TB is crucial to win the battle against this disease.  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 workers, diagnostic machines, supply chains, primary health care facilities, disease surveillance capabilities, and community health workers that fight TB prepare the world for future health threats. “

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