Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Constantino Chiwenga says only 56 percent of people with tuberculosis (TB) are currently on treatment in this country.
Speaking during a virtual summit on World TB Day yesterday, the Vice President said there is underfunding for TB treatment in Zimbabwe.
“Only 56 percent of people with TB are on treatment and TB control budgets continue to be drastically underfunded. Governments are contributing an average 24 percent of their budgets for TB control and international partners are providing an average 34 percent, leaving a 24 percent funding gap,
“As the country inches towards the last mile of finding missed TB cases, there is need for more targeting of priority groups to optimise yield. There has been a rapid scale-up of new diagnostic technologies for prompt diagnosis and treatment of TB and drug resistant TB,” he said.
The Minister of Health urged the health sector to redouble efforts to raise awareness on TB so as to reduce the morbidity rate caused by the respiratory disease.
“Now more than ever we should redouble our support to raise awareness on TB, enhance the community and health system capacities. The initiative will reduce morbidity and mortalities from this disease for our population,” The Vice President said.
Vice President Chiwenga said the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to delays in TB diagnosis and treatment.
He urged the health sector not to confuse TB with the deadly corona virus as they are both respiratory diseases.
“This negative impact of Covid-19 is mainly related to stigma and reduced accessibility to health services leading to delays in TB diagnosis and treatment initiation. TB and Covid -19 have a similarity in that both are respiratory in nature. There is need to guard against the likelihood of missing TB in some patients who would be mimicking Covid -19.” He added.