11 April 2014

Zambia: Govt Starts TB Survey

GOVERNMENT is conducting a national tuberculosis (TB) prevalence survey to adduce evidence that will ensure effective TB programming in the country, deputy Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya has said.

Speaking in Lusaka yesterday during a research dissemination meeting organised by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ), Dr Chilufya said programme-based research will form a greater part of the national TB control programme.

He said designing and conducting locally relevant research could help identify problems, and determine workable solutions in scaling-up the TB control measures.

He said his ministry was working on introducing more effective TB diagnostic tools that have a shorter turnaround time in the diagnosis of TB to ensure prompt treatment.

Dr Chilufya said the fight against TB called for collaborative efforts between Government and partners.

"It is through collective efforts that we as a country will be able to accelerate progress towards the global goal with zero TB deaths, stigma and infections," he said.

He said the prevalence of HIV in the country had caused a resurgence of TB, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality.

"HIV is emerging as a major impediment to TB control and has become a major focus of TB prevention in Zambia, because HIV and TB have overlapping epidemiologies, with TB being the most commonly reported infection in persons with HIV," he said.

Dr Chilufya said in 2012 alone, Zambia reported 45,000 TB cases, and Government had currently recorded considerable progress in handling TB through effective detection rates above 70 per cent and cure rates of up to 80 per cent.

CIDRZ acting director Izukanji Sikazwe said the organisation had over the last 10 years shown commitment to answering key questions on research surrounding TB and other infectious diseases.

"With the support from our donors, we have the responsibility to ensure that research is appropriate and addresses key concerns needed for the Zambian population," she said.

Dr Sikazwe said the CIDRZ programmes were anchored in the different health centers across the country, and that her organisation tried to bridge the gap between research and policy.

The meeting drew the participation of medical practitioners from district and provincial health offices across the country.

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