3 provinces benefit under TB Reach Project

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BY PATRICIA SIBANDA
THREE provinces with high rates of tuberculosis (TB) have benefited from a research project funded by the Union Zimbabwe Trust (UZT) in a bid to control the respiratory disease.

The provinces that benefited include Matabeleland South, Bulawayo and Midlands which all have high rates of drug resistant TB (DRTB)

UZT community TB care officer Kwenziweyinkosi Ndlovu said: “The project is not implemented in all the provinces in the country. We chose three provinces that have the highest numbers of TB cases.

“From all this information, Matabeleland South in 2019 had 60 drug resistant TB (DRTB) cases, followed by Midlands at 55 cases and the third being Bulawayo, which was closely followed by Harare. These three provinces contributed one third of the DRTB problem, that’s how we zeroed in on these provinces to make sure that resources are taken to where they are needed the most.”

Ndlovu said the TB Reach Project funds were being channelled towards 11 projects in eight countries.

“US$6,4 million was disbursed for 11 projects in eight countries, hence the UZT managed to secure US$600 000 to support the TB outreach project which they used to procure gene-expert machines.  These machines are used to detect drug resistant TB and three of them were bought and deployed to Midlands province at Gweru Provincial Hospital.  The other three machines were given to Bulawayo’s Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital, Matabeleland South province’s machines went to Gwanda Hospital.”

He said it would assist the hospitals to detect DRTB on patients to ensure that they are not placed on treatment regimens when they are not actually suffering from drug resistant TB.

“We want to ensure treatment success rates of at least 80% because World Health Organisation (WHO) studies revealed that the treatment success rate was at 59% as of 2018, which is a bit worrying if we are saying only 59% cases were successfully treated. We intend to have all our patients getting successfully treated,” he said.

WHO recommends a full oral treatment regimen to replace injectables. It also states that there is need to move to full oral treatment.  In 2020, 90 countries were using all oral regimens, while 65 countries were using shorter regimens.

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