Channel more funds towards fighting TB, govt urged

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BY NHAU MANGIRAZI/ VANESSA GONYE
THE Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) has pleaded with government to channel more resources towards fighting tuberculosis (TB) as the  disease continues to claim more lives globally.

In a statement to commemorate World TB Day yesterday, ZCLDN urged the government to provide adequate funding to combat TB which claims an average of 4 100 lives globally each year.

World TB Day is commemorated on March 24 each year to raise public awareness on its health and socio-economic impacts.

‘‘Zimbabwe lags in meeting the Abuja Declaration of allocating 15% of the government’s budget towards health and as ZCLDN we believe there is a need for the government to invest more in the healthcare system and support TB services from its own coffers. We believe with a robust and well-invested TB programme, stigmatising and criminalising of people who use drugs could come to an end,’’ the ZCLDN statement read.

‘‘There was a reduction in resources as most of the attention was given to COVID-19. Zimbabwe’s TB and HIV programmes and many other health services are partly supported through donors and since these countries also had to tackle COVID-19, support for programmes like TB were hard hit.

United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) executive director Winnie Byanyima said TB was the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, accounting for about one-third of Aids-related deaths globally.

“When COVID-19 hit, global attention on HIV and TB shifted as the world focused on tackling the new pandemic. This means that lives were needlessly lost and important targets missed for HIV, TB and other diseases. Urgent action and increased investments are needed to get us back on track,” she said.

WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti said funding for TB  prevention, diagnosis and treatment services continued to fall far short of global targets.

“At the UN High-Level meeting on TB in 2018, world leaders agreed to mobilise US$13 billion per year to finance TB prevention and treatment by 2022 and promised another US$2 billion per year for TB research in the face of growing concerns around drug-resistant TB. In 2020, global spending on TB services fell to US$5,3 billion, and funding for research was US$901 million,” he said.

In Africa, governments contribute only 22% of the resources required to deliver adequate TB services, with 44% being unfunded, seriously impeding efforts to reduce the TB burden.

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