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ZIMBABWE yesterday joined the rest of the globe in commemorating World Tuberculosis Day as the country continues to implement strategies to end the epidemic by 2030.

This year’s celebrations were held under the theme, ‘YES! We Can End TB’. 

The theme brings attention to TB, and the collective power to end TB by 2030 and, therefore, reach the Sustainable Development Goals of which Zimbabwe ratified.

Despite being both preventable and curable, TB remains a public health emergency, with Zimbabwe still remaining in the top 30 countries burdened withTB/HIV and MDR-TB.

Speaking at the World TB Day commemoration yesterday, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Sleiman Kwidini, said TB remains one of the major public health problems in Zimbabwe. 

“Males bear the brunt of the disease burden, particularly the economically productive 25 – 44-year age group,” he said.

“As we commemorate this day, let us be reminded that globally, 29 000 people get infected by TB every day, and more than 3 000 people die from it globally. 

“The year 2024 is going to be critical for all of us engaged in tuberculosis (TB) work and should be championed as the ‘Year Of Hope’ to get full support, attention, and energy for a collective effort.

“We are called upon to ensure equitable access to TB prevention and care in line with World Health Organisation’s drive towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.”

Deputy Minister Kwidini said the effect of COVID 19 on TB control is undeniable, and continues to linger, but Zimbabwe has demonstrated resilience and was part of the countries that contributed to the global shift towards recovery of TB programming from COVID in 2022. 

“This recovery can be sustained by improving access to new diagnostics, adopting international best practices moving with technology, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI),” he said.

“Urgent investment of resources for TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment, support, care and information is vital to winning the fight against TB by saving a million more lives and accelerating the end of the TB epidemic.”

He said Zimbabwe has made significant progress in reducing the burden as observed by the decline in the estimated incidence rate from 242 per 100 000 in 2015 to a rate of 204 per 100 000 in 2022. 

“The TB epidemic in Zimbabwe is largely driven by HIV and we have instituted successfulTB/HIV collaborative activities,” Deputy Minister Kwidini said.

“We are pleased to have developed a TB Preventive Therapy Acceleration Plan that is anchored on the adoption of the latest guidelines and innovations including shorter regimens,” he said.

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