Zimbabwe’s Tuberculosis, Covid-19 Dilemma

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Mirirai Nsingo/Owen Kaura

Authorities in Zimbabwe say the Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the country’s response to Tuberculosis. According to the latest global TB report, Zimbabwe remains one of the top eight countries in Africa with a high TB burden. The country records an estimated 21 000 new cases each year. Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care said the pandemic has reversed some of the country’s successes in eradicating the disease.

Speaking during a virtual World Tuberculosis Day address on Wednesday, Vice President Chiwenga said, “Zimbabwe along with the rest of the world agreed on a powerful and ambitious declaration to accelerate progress towards End TB targets.”

He however, said the emergence of Covid-19 in 2020 has disrupted the progress in the country’s national TB response as evidenced by the sharp decline in TB notifications for both drug sensitive and drug resistant forms of TB.

Health expert and director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung disease, in Zimbabwe, Dr Christopher Zishiri, said the Covid-19 induced lock-down negatively affected surveillance of TB cases and access to treatment facilities by patients.

“This affected people travelling to go and look for services and health staff were also affected. We had a dip in finding our TB patients in the community,” he said.

The 2021 World TB Day Commemorations are running under the theme, “The Clock is Ticking.”