6 March 2013

Tanzania: Health Experts Salute Tropical Diseases Control Programme

HEALTH experts have lauded the Neglected Tropical Disease (NTDs) Control programme in the country for its foresight in increasing partnerships to help fulfill its objectives.

NTD National Project Coordinator, Dr Upendo Mwingira said at the start of a four day annual joint planning meeting that in 2012, WaterAid and the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre had come on board.

"WaterAid is ready to provide support and we feel the opportunities are good because they are present in areas where we are," she said.

During discussions, the chairperson and Director General of the National Institute of Medical Research, Dr Mwele Malecela said that combating of NTDs needed a holistic approach and that the programme was headed the right way. Dr Malecela said that it was her conviction that a lot of time had been wasted in dealing with the diseases individually saying that partnering should be done as much as possible.

Health stakeholders in the country and donor partners are meeting to review the achievements and challenges of 2012/13 and jointly plan for 2013/14 with the guidance of the strategic master plan for NTDs for 2012 - 2017. Dr Mwingira highlighted other achievements as being the endorsement of the plan, the training of over 6,000 health workers, the near completion of a database and the near finalising of the trachoma mapping process.

"While we were undergoing the process of the trachoma mapping, we found that there was a need to re-prioritise because there were some areas that we thought had high prevalence but instead had low and vice versa. "Let's take Kilimanjaro for example, there is a district that we hadn't prioritised in implementation and found many patients there we were not able to treat because there was no data," she said.

Dr Malecela said that the issue of urban dwellers not taking drugs was more on a process issue that dealt on the drugs not reaching the people and not that they refuse to take them. The WaterAid Head of Maji Programme, Eng Godfrey Mpangala told the 'Daily News' that they had identified 19 aspects that they would partner in and were thrilled to join hands.

Eng Mpangala said that WaterAid had been in the country since 1983 and had realised that their goals and those of the government were the same and were happy to supplement. "We know that there is no way we can do more than the government but are sure with a little resources, the messages that the government wants to put across for advocacy purposes, we can include in our activities," he said.

WaterAid Policy Analyst Mr Ferdinandes Axweso added that the biggest message they wanted to put across was that integrating water, sanitation and hygiene with the control of NTD programmes, maximum impact would be achieved. Officiating at the opening of the meeting, the Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Donan Mmbando said that they believe that come 2015, NTDs could be controlled and eliminated with the good job that the programme is doing.

Dr Mmbando said that the task can be quickened with the private sector coming on board and the government would continue playing its part. He said that it was commendable that over 14 million people had received treatment for various diseases and that more efforts were needed at ensuring that resource allocation was better managed and coordinated.

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