BY SINDISO DUBE
LEGISLATORS who attended this year’s World Tuberculosis Day commemorations at Tshitshi Centre in Mangwe district, Matabeleland South province have urged government to roll out tuberculosis awareness campaigns in rural communities to encourage early diagnosis and treatment of the highly infectious disease.
The call came as the nation commemorated World Tuberculosis Day, an event that aims to raise awareness on TB and the efforts made to prevent and treat the disease. The commemorations are usually held on March 24 every year.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), in partnership with the Health ministry, organised the commemoration under the theme: It’s time to intensify the fight against TB.
Mangwe legislator Obedingwa Mguni (Zanu PF) implored government to increase awareness of the disease in rural areas.
“Many people here are dying without treatment. Most of the people here dwell in mining areas and some take TB lightly, downplaying it for a cough and flu. We need to roll out
awareness programmes to educate our people and help fight the pandemic,” he said.
Bulilima West legislator, Dingimuzi Phuthi (Zanu PF) encouraged people to seek early treatment.
“We have had many patients dying without being diagnosed and treated. Among the communities we live in people trivialise TB, leading to more fatalities. We need to educate our people on the dangers and signs of TB,” Phuthi said.
Zimbabwe is one of the countries with high incidences of tuberculosis.
In 2017 Zimbabwe was among WHO’s list of 14 countries considered high-burden for multi-drug resistance TB as well as TB co-infections. At least 242 new cases of TB are being registered per 100 000 people in Zimbabwe, with HIV being the major driver with an estimated 70% co-infection rate
Mguni also called on government to introduce a TB levy to alleviate the plight of patients
“As a nation we claim that TB treatment is free, but indirectly patients suffer costs from transport, food, X-ray and also time. That in itself shows that TB patients are not fully and directly treated freely and who should bear this cost? In other countries citizens pay a small fee channelled to the health care systems,” he said.
“Recently the Minister of Finance introduced the 2% tax and we hope something can be done with it to save lives. Since Aids and TB usually go hand in hand and since we have an
Aids Levy why can’t we have a similar levy for TB which is taking lives or we include a share of TB on Aids Levy? Matabeleland South has only one machine to test for TB and it’s in Gwanda. That means the expense of going there is high and some have died before they could be examined and treated.”