The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has closed the US$25 million -Challenge TB grant for Zimbabwe, following an end to its five year tenure.
Challenge TB (CTB), is an American government sponsored, five year global funding mechanism meant to spur the fight against tuberculosis.
The grant ends with Zimbabwe having achieved commendable strides in reduction of TB incidence from 278 per 100 000 population in 2014 to 210 per 100, 000 population in 2018.
At the closing ceremony yesterday, the Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo said that optimizing treatment outcomes remains an area of priority focus for a curable disease such as TB.
"As we mark an end to a five year journey with Challenge TB, we celebrate some collective strides in the national response. Our estimated treatment coverage now stands at 83%, up from 70% in 2014.TB incidence has climbed down to 210 per 100, 000 population in 2018, from 278 per 100 000 population in 2014,"
"No one should die of TB, Inorapika ichipera/ Umkhuhlane weTB uyelapheka," Dr Moyo.
Incidence and mortality rate among Tuberculosis patients declined by 25% and 49% respectively in 2018 from baseline 2014.
HIV prevalence among TB patients declined from 68% to 62%.
The project sought to strengthen TB-HIV collaborative interventions, recognizing that two thirds of TB patients in Zimbabwe are living with HIV, with TB notably the leading cause of HIV associated deaths in the country.
Challenge TB supported 46 one stop shop high volume facilities across the country, to offer integrated TB-HIV services. In addition, diabetes mellitus screening, an important risk factor for TB, was layered within the integrated service package.
Zimbabwe is now among the few countries in the region that has started rolling out a shorter and less toxic, all oral regimen for the treatment of drug resistant TB, thanks to Challenge TB.
Challenge TB also funded a TB Drug Resistance survey, that ascertained the real burden of drug resistant TB in the country, and the 1st ever nationwide survey to determine catastrophic costs incurred by households of TB patients.
Despite these gains, deaths from TB still remain unacceptably high, at 15% among notified TB clients, likely attributed to late treatment seeking behavior and important comorbidities such as HIV and Diabetes.
"To the Challenge TB consortium in Zimbabwe, thank you for the sterling work and a job well done. Dr Zishiri- The Union Country Director who was leading the Challenge TB consortium, you drove the ship well and all your efforts are evident for all to see. All the hard work has left an impression in our quest to end TB by 2035," said Dr Moyo.
"As we draw curtains to the five year journey with Challenge TB, we remain indebted to everyone who had a stake in this story, including our TB patients, who were the very reason for Challenge TB," added Dr Moyo.
Challenge TBMinistry of Health and Child CareTBThe UnionUSAID