“TB ANYWHERE IS TB EVERYWHERE”. It spreads from person to person and can move across borders.
Fighting TB ensures a safer world.
Keeping the Promise to END TB
The clock is ticking!
In the race to ending tuberculosis (TB) by 2030, the disease remains one of the world’s fatal infectious killers. Each day, nearly 4 000 lose their lives to TB, and close to 28,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease (WHO, 2020).
Sadly, TB is the primary cause of mortality in people living with HIV (PLHIV) worldwide, with 79 percent of the estimated 1.37 million new cases of TB/HIV occurring in sub-Saharan Africa (WHO, 2019).
The close relationship between TB and HIV/AIDS poses a significant burden on Zimbabwe’s health system. About 60 percent of TB patients are also living with HIV. WHO cites Zimbabwe as being among the 14 countries with a triple burden of TB, TB-HIV co-infection, and drug-resistant TB (DR-TB).
In Zimbabwe, approximately 1,4 million people are living with HIV (National HIV Estimates). And TB continues to be the leading cause of death among people living with HIV with 60 percent of Zimbabweans suffering from TB are co-infected with HIV.
According to the Global TB Report of 2019, Zimbabwe recorded a total of 25 775 cases, and of those 15 062 were in PLHIV.TB is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. While TB typically affects the lungs, it can affect any part of the body. TB spreads from person to person through the air when someone sick with the disease coughs, sneezes, or spits. Another person needs only to inhale a few of these germs to become infected.
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The crucial question to ask is what needs to be done to end TB?
Prevention, prevention, and prevention!
People with impaired immunity, such as people living with HIV, children under five years, and those on certain medications that affect the immune system have a much higher risk of developing TB disease. The key to TB prevention is reaching people with preventive therapy (TB preventive therapy) before the infection develops into an active infectious disease.
There are no scenarios in which we can end the global TB epidemic without a much greater focus on TB prevention. But there is still an opportunity to substantially reduce the death toll by prioritizing the most critical services: antiretroviral therapy for HIV and timely diagnosis and treatment of TB.
There is a need to ensure that people have access to diagnosis and appropriate care at the earliest stage after exposure to TB. This is critical to reducing TB transmission and ending the epidemic.
And as the world comes together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to ensure that essential services and operations for dealing with long-standing health problems continue to protect the lives of people with TB and other diseases or health conditions.
Health services, including national programmes to combat TB, need to be actively engaged in ensuring an effective and rapid response to COVID-19 while ensuring that TB services are maintained.
Each year, we commemorate World TB Day on March 24 to raise public awareness about the health, social and economic consequences of TB and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.
TB INFECTION: KEY FACTS
- People can live with latent TB infection where they are infected with the TB bacteria but are not presently ill with TB disease and are not infectious (passing from one person to another). In some instances, however, latent TB infection can develop into TB disease. When this happens people become sick, and the bacteria are then able to be passed to others.
- About one-quarter of the world’s population is living with TB infection.
- Individuals in close contact with someone who is sick with pulmonary TB disease are at higher risk of TB infection versus individuals who have more casual contact.
- Among people living with TB infection, those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of developing TB disease – particularly children under five years and people living with diabetes or HIV.
- People are at the highest risk of developing TB disease one to two years after acquiring TB infection.
- Those living with TB infection who receive TB preventive treatment are 60 to 90 percent less likely to develop TB disease (The Union, 2018).
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