Zimbabwe’s First Lady appoints TB Champions amidst the Covid-19 epidemic
First Lady of Zimbabwe giving her remarks during the appointment of TB Champions
With the Covid-19 epidemic ravaging most countries worldwide and all efforts seemingly directed towards containing the virus, Zimbabwe has made a bold statement that other important diseases such as Tuberculosis (TB) should never be left behind. Zimbabwe remains one of top eight countries in Africa on the world's top 30 list of countries heavily burdened by TB, TB/HIV and MDR-TB with a TB incidence of 210 /100,000 population (WHO 2019, GTB. TB in Zimbabwe is the major cause for morbidity and mortality in the country and is largely fuelled by HIV.
The FIRST Lady of Zimbabwe, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa appointed 21 Tuberculosis (TB)
Champions on May 28 at a function attended by the Ministry of Health Officials, representative of the Global TB Caucus, civil society organisations, the media as well as other development partners. The champions were drawn from various sectors which included TB patient communities, health activists, people with disabilities, the media, sports, arts and culture, traditional leadership as well as private entities.
Officiating at the launch, Amai Mnangagwa who is among the policy makers in the country who have signed the Barcelona Declaration to show commitment to the fight against TB globally, said the TB Champions initiative was among some of the partnerships government was exploring to improve the country’s health systems as Zimbabwe battles to fight Covid-19 too.
"These partnerships should aim to contribute towards improved knowledge and awareness of the two related conditions as well as ensuring universal access to high quality services for both conditions. As Health Ambassador I have been working with several partners across the country to help curb this virus while making sure that vulnerable and marginalised communities are well taken care of", said Amai Mnangagwa
Amai Mnangagwa said there was a need for collaboration and coordination of efforts to scale-up the country's response to TB in the general population.
"This will ensure we end stigma and discrimination against TB, while enhancing access to
information and services, especially for hard to reach, at high risk and marginalised communities"she said.
"As Zimbabwe, our dream is to make sure everyone has access to quality health services as such we, therefore, are looking forward to working with all of you fruitfully towards ending TB in Zimbabwe"
The spread of COVID-19 has a severe impact on health systems throughout the world and the effects are slowly being witnessed in the country with a 100 per cent increase in confirmed cases in the last two weeks of May. TB patients are among those highly vulnerable to Covid-19 hence the need to ensure that services are not disrupted while efforts remain focused on prevention, treatment and care for communities. If not properly managed, the link between COVID-19 and other diseases such as TB can prove to be fatal hence the need to ensure that other essential health services remain a priority in the country.
Under the coordination of the Stop TB Partnership Zimbabwe, the champions will work with the government, policy makers and development partners to fight TB, HIV and Covid-19, raising awareness in their various constituencies, advocating for patient centred policies as well as assisting the country in resource mobilisation.