Tuberculosis (TB) still remains one of the world’s top 10 causes of death. According to the World Health Organization, 10 million people fell ill with TB, and 1.6 million died from the disease (including 0.3 million among people living with HIV). In 2017, an estimated 1 million new infections were recorded in children, and 230, 000 more died from the disease (including children with HIV associated TB). It is also a leading killer of HIV positive people.
There is also mounting concern of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). The WHO estimates that there were 558,000 new cases with MDR-TB, 82% of which was resistant to rifampicin- the most effective first line drug. Globally the incidence of TB is reducing by an estimated 2% per year. This falls short of the 4 -5% annual decline needed to reach the 2020 milestone of the End TB Strategy.
TB occurs in every part of the world, with 25% of new infections recorded globally in 2017 in the Africa region. In Zambia, government and stakeholder collaboration has resulted in a 4- 8% decline in TB incidence. However, this is not fast enough to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Increased investment into the health sector and targeted TB programs by all stakeholders is required to eradicate TB.
Zambart has been conducting TB and HIV research in various Zambian communities since 2005 and last year launched the TREATS (Tuberculosis Reduction through Expanded Anti-retroviral Treatment and Screening for active TB), which aims to determine if the PopART intervention reduced the chances of people in eight communities of Zambia getting TB. The PopART study included HIV testing, TB screening and testing as well as linkage to early HIV treatment. Primary endpoint results of the PopART study were announced on 4th March 2019.
World TB Day (WTBD) is observed on 24th March every year, and is designed to raise public awareness regarding the epidemic of Tuberculosis (TB) and efforts of eliminating the disease. This year’s theme was ‘It’s Time: Kick Out TB’. In Zambia, the National TB Day event was commemorated on Friday 22nd March 2019 at the Kuku Grounds in Lusaka.
In the build up to the World TB Day commemoration, the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders organized various activities to raise awareness amongst the public regarding the disease. On the 17th of March, Zambart participated in a Kick Out TB football tournament held at the University of Zambia Lusaka Main Campus grounds were various stakeholders took part.
This was followed by debates and singing competition involving 8 secondary schools from around Lusaka. The teams contested on the various aspects of TB including who can get TB, how we can Kick Out TB, stigma and TB treatment. The winners of the singing competition, Highland Secondary School and final debate between Chunga and Chinika secondary schools were televised on ZNBC TV1. Our Executive Director Dr Alwyn Mwinga was one of the judges and Isaac Mshanga the Community Engagement Coordinator was one of the organisers of the school debate activity and the live show that was won by Chinika Secondary School.
Zambart intensified community sensitization in all 8 TREATS communities. In the Lusaka communities of Chawama and Chipata where Zambart has established mobile field sites, intensified activities were conducted. This included PA announcements with a general cross cutting message for the community as well as door to door campaigns to encourage members of the public to take advantage of the WTBD activities and be screened for TB. This intensified community sensitization took place from 20 – 22nd March 2019. The activities conducted in our mobile field sites include TB symptom screening, CAD4 TB X-ray imaging, Xpert testing of sputum samples and HIV testing services.
In view of the above, 282 people were screened for TB in the period from 20 – 22nd March 2019.
There was also a choir competition where secondary schools were asked to compose songs that contained messages relating to raising public awareness of TB. Highland Secondary School scooped the winning prize and they performed at the national TB commemoration event at the Kuku Grounds in Lusaka.
On Friday 22nd March, Zambart staff led by the Executive Director took part in a march from Embassy Mall on Kafue Road to Kuku Grounds where a Zambart exhibition stand had been set up. Different Zambart study IEC materials were displayed and accessed by the community and other stakeholders. We also had an HIV counseling and testing corner which proved very popular with the local community who came in large numbers to do their HIV counseling and testing.
Congratulations to our TREATS study and Community Engagement teams who continue to work hard in the community to raise TB and HIV awareness. #It’s time: Kick Out TB.