Members of the Parliamentary Portfolio on Health and Child Care have taken a leading initiative in the fight to eradicate tuberculosis in the country by committing to use their influence to educate communities on the need to go for screening and treatment.
Speaking soon after undergoing TB screening at the commemoration of World TB Day in Shurugwi on Friday, Member of Parliament for Mabvuku constituency, James Maridadi said as community leaders, legislators should lead by example so as to inspire people to follow suit.
“It was important for us as honorable members to get tested for TB so that we can encourage people to also get tested, the reason why God gave us the wisdom to train doctors is so that they can save lives,” said Maridadi.
Another legislator, Susan Matsunga said just like anyone else, getting tested for TB at the commemoration of world TB day was important as it enabled her to know her status.
“As a community leader, I must be able to lead by example, if we say we need to end TB, we must be seen to be taking the leading initiative to encourage our people to also join in the vision,” said Matsunga.
Dr Fungai Kavenga, Programme Manager for the Targeted Screening for TB (TAS4TB), an initiative introduced to reach out to high burden communities with TB screening services said TB is managed from the community so by screening members of parliament, they are reaching to communities through their leaders.
“TAS4TB is targeting high risk communities such as those living with HIV, the elderly, diabetic people, refuges, prisoners and prison communities as well as the poor and overcrowded communities, miners both formal and informal.
“So for MPs to be screened here at the commemoration of the World TB Day is important because they are showing leadership and this will send a message to everyone to get screened for TB,” said Kavenga.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary TB Caucus as members of parliament, they had agreed to use their influence to educate communities on the need to get tested for TB.
“We agreed as members of parliament that when we go to our communities, be it rallies, community meetings, we have to include messages that educate people on TB, even if it is a political rally, we end it with TB education messages as well as encouraging communities to get tested for TB,” said Chimedza.
He called on government to commit to fund TB programmes.
The world TB Day commemorations were held under the theme, unite to end TB, Leaving no-one behind. In 2016, Zimbabwe recorded 27 347 TB notifications, a significant decline from the 2015 figure of 28 225, however extreme drug resistant TB could be Zimbabwe’s biggest challenge as there was a slight increase from four people recorded in 2015 to five in 2016.