World Tuberculosis Day: Africa Records 26% Reduction in Deaths

World Tuberculosis Day: Africa records 26% reduction in deaths in 6 years (News Central TV)

The World Health Organisation, WHO, reports that the African region has achieved a 26% reduction in TB mortality as the globe observes this year’s World Tuberculosis, TB, Day.

In her statement to commemorate the occasion, Matshdiso Moeti, Regional Director of WHO in Africa, stated that the region is currently on the verge of achieving a 35% reduction in TB death rates.

She said that seven nations; Eswatini, Kenya, Mozambique, South Sudan, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia, had achieved a 35 percent decrease in mortality since 2015, noting that the 26 percent decline occurred between 2015 and 2021.

However, across the region, the challenges in TB prevention and control are significant: 

“First, the delayed diagnosis and testing. There is still a notable gap between the estimated number of new infections and case notifications of TB: 40 per cent of people living with TB did not know of their diagnosis or it was not reported in 2021. 

“One million people are living with TB in the region and have not been detected.

“Second, the link between TB and HIV. Approximately 20  per cent of people newly diagnosed with TB are also living with HIV infection. 

“Third, the multi-drug resistant TB. In the African region, only 26 per cent of all people living with multi-drug resistance are receiving the appropriate treatment, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshdiso Moeti said.

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In his message, Moeti expressed satisfaction that Member States are adopting more of the new tools and advice the WHO has suggested, leading to earlier access to TB prevention and care and improved outcomes.

She added that the adoption of quick diagnostic tests in the African region increased from 34% in 2020 to 43% in 2021, which will enhance nations’ capacity to identify and diagnose fresh cases of the disease.

“It is particularly important to find and diagnose cases of TB so that the patients can be treated, and their contacts offered preventive medication. Nigeria is an example of a country that managed to significantly increase national TB case finding by 50 per cent in 2021 using innovative approaches such as the expansion of the daily observed treatment protocols, use of digital technologies, Community Active Case Finding, and enlisting Public Private Mix initiatives.” 

She explained that TB requires concerted action by all sectors: from communities and businesses to governments, civil society and others. 

She said: “We must work together to develop innovative approaches to reach vulnerable populations and ensure that they have access to quality TB care and management.”

She added that the second UN High-level Conference on TB, which will take place in September 2023, will offer a unique chance to raise awareness of the illness on a global scale and mobilize high-level political commitment to eradicate TB.

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She emphasized that with the drop in TB fatalities and cases, as well as the removal of associated economic and social burdens, eradicating TB is doable.

In order for Africa to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals targets by 2030, Moeti urged leaders, governments, partners, communities, and all stakeholders to urgently build the robust health systems needed to speed the TB response.

“Yes, we can end TB in our lifetime.”

The world was shocked when Robert Koch identified the organism that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, in 1882. Both wealthy and poor people died from tuberculosis, which was spread through droplets from coughs, sneezes, and talking. In the century that followed, TB was driven underground by medications, a vaccination that shielded young children, and active campaigns. Today, eradicating it entirely is feasible.

The goal of World TB Day, which is observed every year on March 24, is to increase public awareness of the terrible health, social, and economic effects of this curable disease and to urge swifter action to eradicate it.

This year’s theme is “Yes, we can end TB,” highlighting the need to ensure equitable access to prevention and care, in line with our drive towards Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

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With a defined plan in place and a 22% decrease in new infections since 2015, the WHO in the African Region demonstrated in 2021 that it is possible to meet and even surpass the first End TB Strategy milestone (20% reduction by 2020).

According to the WHO, significant progress has been made over the past ten years, particularly in the East and Southern African Regions, thanks to their technical assistance, innovative advocacy, and successful partnerships. Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia are among the high-burden nations that have surpassed or reached the 20% objective for TB case reduction.

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