Poverty scuttling TB fight

HARARE - Health minister David Parirenyatwa says interventions to stop the spread of tuberculosis (TB) are being scuttled by poverty.

Parirenyatwa said poverty has become a co-partner with HIV in stimulating TB.

“Resurgence of tuberculosis in the modern era is mostly fuelled by poverty and HIV pandemics,” Parirenyatwa said at the launch of a poverty survey. “Southern Africa registered one of the highest TB/HIV co-infections in the world.

“Tuberculosis burden, impact and continued spread are closely related to poverty and hence its prevalence is one of the indicators of progress on the Millennium Development Goals.”

The national TB control programme dealt with 38 720 cases last year.

At least 34 391 of these cases were new cases while 4 329 were retreatment cases.

Living conditions for Zimbabweans deteriorated following years of economic meltdown leaving medical care beyond the reach of many.

Parirenyatwa said the statistics could be lower than the actual TB threat facing the country as there were no adequate resources to thoroughly monitor the disease.

“In most developing countries with routine surveillance data on case notification and treatment outcomes is not fully accurate because of incomplete recording and reporting and inadequate access to diagnosis and care services.

“In Zimbabwe, both case notification rates and case detection rates have been relatively low compared to the WHO (World Health Organisation) estimates of disease burden.

“Therefore, the validity of TB disease prevalence and incidence rates basing on the routine surveillance data is filled with uncertainty. The true epidemiology of the disease remains unknown.

“Drug resistant is a new threat for our population concerted efforts are required to prevent the global spread of these deadly TB strains,” he said.

To ascertain the actual burden, the ministry and its partners have launched a national TB survey to ascertain the burden.

Tuberculosis remains a significant public health problem in Zimbabwe and is among the top five leading causes of adult morbidity and mortality while on the globe, the country is one of 22 high TB burden countries in the world.

According to WHO Global Tuberculosis Report 2013, the estimated prevalence of TB (all forms) in Zimbabwe in 2011 was 433 cases per 100 000 population.

The Global Health Initiative (2012) claims Zimbabwe has the second highest TB mortality in the world and WHO 2012 report says it accounted for 6 000 deaths in 2011.

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