There is need to address Tuberculosis (TB) threats and the remaining gaps to the response to occupational lung diseases.
Health Minister, Sylvia Masebo, said this at the 10th Regional Advisory Committee Meeting for Southern Africa TB Health System Support (SATBHSS) project and the Strengthening Pandemic Preparedness (SPP) project in Livingstone on Tuesday.
Masebo said it was important for stakeholders to come together to address tuberculosis threats and its response to occupational lung diseases.
She highlighted the ongoing challenges in fight against tuberculosis despite notable successes achieved at national and regional levels.
Masebo stressed the importance of community and private sector engagement to ensure that no one was left behind in the fight against TB.
“We must engage communities to raise awareness about TB and occupational lung diseases.
“We should intensify TB case finding in all healthcare facilities, ensuring that every patient accessing healthcare is screened for TB, regardless of their presenting symptoms,” she said.
Masebo noted that maintaining disease intelligence and active disease surveillance should remain a priority for the health sector.
She pointed out that nine out of the 30 high TB burden countries worldwide were situated in the region, notably Zambia, Lesotho, and Mozambique.
Masebo warned of the significant threat of drug-resistant TB in Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Zambia, advocating for an enhanced capacity to detect drug-resistant cases and comprehensive care for patients, including psychosocial support.
She also highlighted the elevated risk faced by miners and former miners of contracting TB and occupational lung diseases like silicosis due to continued exposure to silica dust.
The minister acknowledged funding for the four countries received from the International Development Association (IDA) through the World Bank for the implementation of the Southern African Tuberculosis and Health Systems Support Regional Project.
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