Zimbabwe Experiencing 15% TB-Linked Deaths – Minister

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By Thandiwe Garusa

DESPITE efforts by a non-governmental organisation, Challenge TB and the Ministry of Health in spreading awareness and fighting tuberculosis (TB), the death rate from the communicable disease still remains high – at 15%.

Speaking at the Close Out Ceremony for the United States Agency for International  Development (USAID) Challenge TB Funding Mechanism Thursday in Harare, Health Minister Obadiah Moyo said Zimbabwe was still experiencing massive deaths due to TB.

“Our estimated treatment coverage now stands at 83% up from 70% in 2014. TB incidences have climbed down to 210 per 100, 000 population in 2018 from 278 per 100 000 population in 2014,” Moyo said.

“Despite these gains, deaths from TB still remain unacceptably high at 15% among notified TB clients, likely attributed to late treatment seeking behaviour and important comorbidities such as HIV and diabetes.

“Optimising treatment remains an area of priority focus for a curable disease such as TB. No one should die of TB,” said Moyo.

The minister said through USAID, the country received more than $25 million from Challenge TB, a five-year global funding mechanism.

“Challenge TB has for the past five years been working on finding missed patients within the routine health delivery system, strengthened TB-HIV services, the project also prioritised programmatic management of drug resistant TB to tackle the emerging and growing threat from drug resistant TB.”

Speaking at the same event, Charles Sandy said a number of people were still dying due to issues to deal with stigma.

“One of the reasons we are failing to meet our target is that we have people who come to our care services late and there is a delay in indicating a diagnosis. We also have people who come with very advanced diseases perhaps because of issues related to stigma and sometimes issues to do with non access for mobile populations when they are outside Zimbabwe and these are the issues we have to deal with so that we reduce the percentage of people dying with TB,” said Sandy.