Catastrophic costs an obstacle to health care access

Lifestyle Zimbabwe

Mirirai Nsingo

Catastrophic costs are a major obstacle to accessing health care services in Zimbabwe with over 83 percent of tuberculosis patients facing challenges in accessing care, a health official has said.

Ministry of Health and Child Care’s Deputy Director in the AIDS and TB unit, Dr Charles Sandy on Thursday noted that the costs were hindering clients from accessing TB screening and treatment adding that solutions to minimising costs should be found if Zimbabwe was to find and treat all TB cases.

“The catastrophic costs are hindering patients from accessing care with 83 percent of TB patients having reported to have faced this challenge. This is a major obstacle that has seen many failing to access health care services and solutions have to be found to reduce costs.”

Zimbabwe remains a high tuberculosis burdened country with an incidence rate of 210/ 100 000 cases.

While Zimbabwe is ranked among the 30 TB high burdened countries in the world, TB programming is mainly donor funded, with very little domestic funding. Experts argue that this makes it a mammoth task for the country to end TB.

According to the World Health Organisation, TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affects the lungs.

Tuberculosis is curable and preventable. It is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.

The world health body further notes that people with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or people who use tobacco, have a higher risk of falling ill.