Govt intensifies TB fight

TANZANIA has launched the Multisectoral Accountability Framework for TB (MAF-TB) which aims to accelerate progress to end the epidemic by 2030.

The framework seeks to enhance collaboration and accountability from all key stakeholders including policy makers towards the target.

According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) estimates for 2022, Tanzania is among the 30 countries with the highest TB burden, with at least 73 Tanzanians dying each day from TB and the healthcare system missing approximately 35 per cent of patients.

MAF-TB is expected to address the gaps within the TB programming, finding undiagnosed people with TB and linking them to quality care.

The framework will boost sectoral cooperation, which has been lacking for a long time due to a lack of unified coordination, according to Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, who launched it yesterday at an event to commemorate World TB Day in Bariadi, Simiyu Region.

In order to save groups at risk of contracting it, such as miners due to extraction activities that do not take into account the proper ways to protect themselves from silica dust, Mr Majaliwa instructed all the ministries mentioned in the framework to set strategic priorities to combat the epidemic.

Mr Majaliwa added that Tanzania has made progress towards TB eradication as a result of various governments’ measures.

“So according to data from the WHO, TB-related mortality has fallen by 55 per cent from 55,000 in 2015 to 25,800 in 2022. Similar to that, there is a decrease in new infections from 306 patients per 100,000 people to 208 patients per 100,000 people, which is a decrease of 32 per cent, “he said.

He also asked members of the public to accord full cooperation to the government and other development partners in waging the war against TB.

“We need to come together in charting out strategies to fight TB. If everyone plays their part in this battle against TB, we can confidently break the chain of its new infections, including preventing unnecessary deaths, since the disease is preventable and curable.

“Each one of us has the duty to take all the necessary precautionary measures since a single patient who is not yet diagnosed can infect ten to 20 persons in just one year. I kindly ask each person to adhere to the directives issued by the Ministry of Health and local government authorities,” stressed the PM.

Through the multisectoral approach, structural barriers that enable TB stigma and discrimination will be addressed.

Earlier, the Minister for Health, Ummy Mwalimu, stated that statistics show 71 patients in this country lose their lives every day due to TB. She urged the community to seek treatment because the disease is curable.

With regard to the treatment, Ms Mwalimu stated: “Right now, medications are provided for six months, as opposed to earlier, when the entire course of treatment was 18 months. The patient no longer needs to be admitted to the hospital, but when the treatment begins, a plan will be made for how to acquire medication for the next six months.

Children under the age of five, miners, and healthcare professionals are at the greatest risk of infection, according to Dr George Ngomela, a representative of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) Institute.

He said that drug resistance is the major obstacle to successfully treating the disease. “Drug resistance is a major issue for many nations around the world, so we must act quickly to control the resistance of those drugs,” he noted.

Simiyu Regional Commissioner, Dr Yahaya Nawanda, stated that the region has received 17bn/- to construct hospitals, health centres, and dispensaries in the sixth phase government.

Dr Nawanda noted that they have also received eight diagnostic machines that can provide results within two hours of the tests being performed, as opposed to the previous three to seven days.

He stated that thanks to these machines, they were able to identify 3,689 patients, of whom 90 per cent were treated and recovered.

MAF-TB was first endorsed during the first WHO Global Ministerial Conference on ending TB in Moscow in 2017.

The framework calls to galvanise efforts beyond the health sector that are needed to reach out to vulnerable groups facing increased risk of TB due to where they live or work such as prisoners, miners, healthcare workers and pupils.

Other vulnerable groups with limited access to quality TB services include migrant workers, people in police custody, children, refugees, or internally displaced people.

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