Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) Thursday called on the government to prioritize tuberculosis by allocating the stipulated 15% of the national budget to health which will aid the fight against the ailment.
In a statement to mark World TB Day, ZCLDN Executive Director Wilson Box, called on 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.
“Zimbabwe lags in meeting the Abuja Declaration of allocating 15% of the government’s budget towards health and as ZCLDN we believe there is a need for government to invest more in the healthcare system and support TB services from its own coffers,” Box said.
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 programmes 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 programmes like TB were hard hit,” Box said.
He added that with a robust and well-invested TB programme, stigmatising 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,” he noted.
The organisation urged the government to come up with policies that do not stigmatise 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.