Union support in Zimbabwe leads to increased TB treatment coverage

At a well-attended ceremony to mark the end of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Challenge TB project in Zimbabwe, the Health Minister Obadiah Moyo said the coverage of tuberculosis (TB) treatment now stood at 83 percent, up from 70 percent in 2014, showing that the interventions being rolled out were bearing fruit.

Dr Christopher Zishiri, Director of The Union Zimbabwe Office, said: “The increase in TB treatment coverage has further resulted in the decline of incidence rates by 25 percent, meaning a quarter fewer people are now being infected with TB. This has been accompanied by a cut in the mortality rate of 49 percent.

“The antiretroviral therapy uptake among co-infected patients has also increased from 68 percent in 2014 to 91 percent, with a decline of HIV prevalence among TB patients from 68 percent to 62 percent,” he said.

The Union’s work through Challenge TB focused on finding and treating people with TB, both within the routine health delivery system and in hard-to-reach communities. The project strengthened TB-HIV and diabetes mellitus collaborative interventions, supporting 46 integrated ‘one stop shop’ facilities across the country. The project also prioritised the programmatic management of drug-resistant TB and supported the use of more sensitive diagnostic tools. Zimbabwe is now among the few countries in the region that has started rolling out a shorter and less toxic all-oral regimen for the treatment of drug-resistant TB. Throughout the project, a special focus was made on monitoring and evaluating systems for TB surveillance, including operational research, with health workers routinely collecting data for decision-making at a local level.

The Union Zimbabwe Office was the lead partner in implementing the Challenge TB grant from 2015-2019, working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation.

Going forward, USAID will continue supporting the national TB response through the ‘TB Local Organizations Network’ where, in Zimbabwe, the newly established local entity, The Union Zimbabwe Trust will be the lead partner working with three other local organisations.

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