Government has called for urgent scaling up of efforts towards combating tuberculosis if Zambia was to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Deputy Minister for Community Development, Mother and Child Health Dorothy Kazunga said that it was important that the many people that have tuberculosis were quickly identified and successfully treated to stop the disease from spreading in communities.
Ms. Kazunga said this in Lusaka today when she officiated at the commemoration of the 2014 World Tuberculosis Day whose theme was ‘reach the three million; a TB test, treatment and cure for all”.
She said her ministry has devised deliberate measures to train new and existing frontline health care workers to effectively control and possibly eliminate the disease from the country in order to have a healthy population.
“Our current efforts to find, treat and cure everyone who gets ill with TB are not sufficient. That is why we are still recording deaths as a result of this disease. We should all ensure that no one is left behind in this fight against TB,” she said.
Ms. Kazunga said government was devising new strategies and investing in new diagnostic tools such as the genexpert machine to strengthen capacities in identifying and treating TB cases in the shortest possible time.
She disclosed that Zambia is among only eight African countries to have attained 70 per cent TB case detection rate target and 85percent TB treatment success rate target.
She disclosed that government has embarked on a national TB prevalence survey in order to know existing and expected number of TB cases in the country.
The Deputy Minister has since urged frontline health care workers in various health care settings to be alert when screening clients for TB and ensure that patients complete treatment.
She implored the general public to get involved in TB infection control measures by sensitizing and supporting the communities to adhere to treatment.
And speaking at the same function, United States embassy Charge d’ Affaires David Young called for increased awareness campaigns in the fight against tuberculosis to support prevention.
Mr. Young disclosed that his government has provided US$5 million for the national TB prevalence survey to help Zambia understand the burden of this disease in the country.
Meanwhile, World Health Organisation Regional Director Olesugun Babaniyi warned against complacency in the fight against TB which he described as an epidemic fueled by high poverty levels and simultaneous HIV infections.
Dr. Babaniyi has since called for concerted efforts in scaling up TB interventions to find, treat and cure TB patients.