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Thursday, December 8, 2022
HomeHealthIncrease Screening, Treatment Of TB Among Drug Users, Govt Urged

Increase Screening, Treatment Of TB Among Drug Users, Govt Urged

Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN), has urged government and partners working in the area of Tuberculosis (TB) programing to scale up access to screening and treatment of TB in people who use drugs to achieve universal health coverage.

In a statement, ZCLDN said people who use drugs are at an increased risk of contracting and developing severe TB symptoms due to their marginalization.

“The world health board said the increase in the number of TB deaths occurred mainly in the 30 countries with the highest burden of TB. In its modeling projections, WHO suggests that the number of people developing TB and dying from the disease could be much higher in 2022.

“It is against this backdrop that Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN), an organization that advocates for the effective strategies for addressing problems associated with the use of drugs in Zimbabwe, joins the rest of the world in calling for the urgent need to invest resources to ramp up the fight against TB and achieve the commitments to end TB made by global leaders, especially among people who use drugs in their diversity,” said ZCLDN.

Zimbabwe, just like many countries had its TB services disrupted and there was a reduction in resources as most of the attention was given to Covid-19. Zimbabwe’s TB and HIV programs and many other health services are partly supported through donors, and since these countries had to tackle COVID-19 in their own countries support for programs like TB was hard hit.

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“Zimbabwe lags in meeting the Abuja Declaration of allocating 15% of the government’s budget towards health and as ZCLDN we believe there is need for 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 program, stigmatizing and criminalizing people who use drugs could come to an end. People who use drugs and substances are more susceptible to TB because their bodies are weak and cannot defend themselves against illnesses such as TB/HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C.”

They added that there is a need for government to come up with policies that do not stigmatize and discriminate against people who use drugs but ensure equitable access to prevention and care in line with WHO’s drive towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, especially in the prevention and treatment of TB.

According to the World Health Organisation’s 2021 Global TB report, in 2020, more people died from TB, with far fewer people being diagnosed and treated or provided with TB preventive treatment compared to 2019, and overall spending on essential TB services falling.

TB services are among many other services which were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but the impact on TB has been particularly severe.

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