How US supports Tanzania’s health sector

THE visit of US Vice-President Kamala Harris to the country is expected to strengthen the country’s support for the health sector.

For the past six decades, the US has worked with Tanzania to address a variety of health needs, with a focus on quality integrated services, health system strengthening and healthy behaviours.

These efforts support Tanzania’s commitment to improve health outcomes and health care services, focusing on programmes to address HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, family planning, reproductive health, nutrition, global health security, maternal, newborn and child health.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr Stergomena Tax said in Dar es Salaam on Monday that the US government has initiated various programmes in Tanzania that have played a significant role in improving the living standard of the people.

She mentioned some of them as US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and Feed the Future.

“Other benefits of her visit, apart from strengthening diplomatic ties include development of strategic sectors that include health, economic empowerment of women, girls and young businesspeople, tourism and environmental conservation,” said Dr Tax.

In February 2023, PEPFAR announced a two-year budget amounting to 827,801,250 million US dollars, equivalent to 1.9tril/- for Tanzania for the period starting from October 2024 to September 2026.

Dr Tax stated that the programme’s implementation in the country has significantly contributed to reducing the spread of HIV infection as well as empowering 88 per cent of people living with the virus to know their status and 95 per cent to use drugs to reduce the severity of the disease.

In Tanzania, PEPFAR has helped reduce AIDS-related deaths by almost 80 per cent since 2003 and new infections by almost 60 per cent. When the programme began, less than 1000 people in Tanzania were on HIV treatment. Today, more than 1.5 million Tanzanians are receiving this life saving treatment. New infections have dropped from 130,000 in 2003 to 54,000 in 2021.

According to a US government official website, since 2005, USAID has supported efforts under the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) to improve prevention through insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs), indoor residual insecticide spraying and prevention of malaria in pregnancy.

Additionally, PMI activities control the spread of malaria by assisting prompt diagnosis and treatment, disease surveillance, human resources capacity, malaria awareness and healthy behaviours.

In 2019, USAID and Tanzania signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Tanzania’s Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister’s Office of Regional and Local Government to commit to the Global Accelerator to end TB.

The Accelerator leverages public and private sector resources to build local capacity for client-centred care and treatment of TB patients.

Since 2019, USAID partners have expanded case detection using improved TB diagnostic and screening tools, including the detection of multidrug resistant TB, initiating patients on TB treatment in partnership with community TB volunteers, civil society organizations and local government.

In 2021, USAID support contributed to TB case identification and treatment initiation to 87,415 people nationwide but specifically 39,877 TB patients were put on treatment in 16 USAID supported regions.

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