Health Experts Call for Integrated Approach to HIV and TB in Zimbabwe

health experts

Zimbabwe is facing challenges in eliminating tuberculosis (TB) say health experts, who are calling for much greater integration of HIV and TB programmes within the healthcare system.

Tremendous progress has been made in minimising the spread of HIV while TB programming is weak in comparison, according to Michael Bartos, UNAIDS country director for Zimbabwe.

Strengthening coordination systems

Bartos told a recent workshop for Zimbabwean civil society organisations that there was an urgent need to strengthen coordinating systems across HIV, TB and malaria. The workshop was run by AIDS Accountability International in partnership with Southern Africa AIDS Trust and Zimbabwe AIDS network.

“We need, as civil society, to enhance HIV mobilisation to support TB. There is weak mobilisation of communities where it matters. The issue of resources also needs to be addressed if we are to succeed in eliminating the spread of TB,” Bartos said.

Civil society priorities

At the workshop, representatives from various HIV groups created a priorities charter as an ‘advocacy road map’ for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. The top priority was the need for a coordinating mechanism for HIV and TB, according to Dr Gemma Oberth, senior researcher at AIDS Accountability International.

“This is because HIV coordinating structures are disproportionately strong, compared with TB civil society networks,” Dr Oberth said.

Some of the priorities identified include prevention, treatment, advocacy, care and support, mitigation and stigma reduction.

Zimbabwe is ranked 17 among the 22 countries in the world worst affected by TB, according to a research project commissioned by the World Health Organisation.

Victoria James, director of New Dimension Consulting, which carried out the research, said: “The estimated incidence of new TB cases was 633 per 100,000 in 2010 compared to 97 per 100,000 in 1990, reflecting a growing trend.

Seventy-five per cent of adult TB cases are reported to be HIV co-infected, while HIV testing in TB is 97 per cent. The treatment rate is very low and civil society needs to focus more on playing a role to address the issues.”

She also highlighted some concerns involving new TB diagnoses, which are reported to have increased from 35,340 in 2013 to 38,725 in 2012.

Lack of resources

According to Dr Charles Sandy, deputy director of AIDS and TB programmes at the Ministry of Health and Child Care, TB is managed through the routine health system. The government is faced with the challenge of a lack of resources, although it collaborates with local and international partners.

“We are dependent on the health delivery system for success of the TB programme. Although we have made some progress in trying to address TB, we are facing challenges of a demotivated health workforce and lack of optimum work performance,” Dr Sandy said.

He added that community awareness in addressing TB was low and more resources were needed to address the challenges. Sandy said the government worked with civil society organisations through the Country Coordinating Mechanism and invited them to make suggestions on how they could be more involved.

Source: all africa

Zimbabwe: Diarrhoea Outbreak Hits Chinhoyi


A diarrhoea outbreak has hit Chinhoyi with about 1 000 cases recorded in the last three weeks, amid fears that the bug could result in fatalities.

The outbreak, which is being blamed on the rota virus, started about three weeks ago.

About 309 cases were recorded last week, with 202 of them being children under the age of five.

The seriously affected have been admitted at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital, while others are being given the oral rehydration solution.

Makonde district medical officer Dr Paradzai Mudzengerere confirmed the outbreak and said a comprehensive awareness campaign was underway.

“We have seen an increase in the number of diarrhoeal cases in recent weeks and we attribute that to the onset of the winter season where the rota virus is very active,” he said.

Government has come up with an immunisation programme to deal with the rota virus which thrives in low temperatures.

The programme was carried out about two months ago and more than 60 percent coverage was recorded in Chinhoyi.

Source: All Africa

Zimbabwe: Malaria Still a Burden in Border Areas


Malaria burden remains high in border towns in Zimbabwe, especially in areas close to Mozambique, health experts have said. While the overall national statistics indicate a major decline from 5 000 deaths to 300 per year, border districts like Mudzi are still recording high cases.

Speaking during the launch of the Zimbabwean leg of the race against malaria (RAM) 2 campaign at Nyamapanda clinic last week, deputy minister of Health and Child Care, Paul Chimedza said the initiative was paying special attention to the worst affected areas.

“The communities that live in these areas are closely interlinked,” he said. Chimedza said the disease burden was weighing heavily on the battered health delivery service. He said there was need for more funding from partners.

Currently the Global Fund and a few other partners are contributing to malaria control programmes. The provincial medical director for Mashonaland East, Simukai Zizhou said 28 000 cases of malaria had been recorded in 2013 in Mudzi, accounting for over 20% of the population.

“At the moment areas like Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe, Mutoko and Mudzi top the list,” he said. Cross border movement was posing a challenge to programme interventions and RAM was initiated in Sadc to maximise efforts to control malaria.

Initiated in 2003, RAM includes countries like Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. RAM is a Sadc initiative to create awareness and mobilise resources for action against malaria and to strengthen malaria control infrastructure within the region.

The first RAM campaign was held in November 2003.Convoys of country malaria teams drove from Angola to Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania) through Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique and Malawi.

During the campaign, regional and local partners including the corporate world were instrumental in mobilising malaria commodities which were distributed to support activities for malaria prevention and control in the region.

RAM 2 campaign, which is a reverse of RAM 1, started from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania on April 13 2014 and will end on April 25 2014 in Angola. Countries taking part in RAM 2 include Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Tanzania and Angola.

The participants of RAM 2 include individuals, institutions or organisations that share the need for a malaria-free Africa and seek to achieve parasite-free communities. These include Government departments, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, the Corporate world, private sector, health professionals, and uniformed forces.

Source: All Africa

Zimbabwe: ‘Eight Children Die From Diarrhoea Every Week’


UP to eight children are dying weekly as a result of diarrhoea, the Deputy Minister of Health, Paul Chimedza told the National Assembly last Wednesday.

Responding to Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya’s question on the recent death of three children after they had taken bilharzia drugs, Chimedza said diarrheal deaths were becoming prevalent in the country.

He said it has now been established that two of the three children died from diarrhoea which had nothing to do with bilharzia drugs. The cause of death for the third child could not be established as he was buried before a post-mortem could be conducted.


Diarrhoea kills over one million children under five every year

“If you go to my statistics of deaths, every week we will have six to eight children dying because of diarrhoea which has nothing to do with drugs,” Chimedza said.

Three children, aged between five and eight, recently died in Harare and Redcliff after taking the bilharzia drug. The children were said to have started vomiting and developed diarrhoea the same day they had taken the medication.

Chimedza said the government’s decision to freeze posts was making it difficult for his ministry to function smoothly.

“The problem we have at the moment is there is a government freeze on posts. At the moment the nurse to patient ratio in some areas is about one to 15 and the ideal is one to four,” he said.

Chimedza urged parliamentarians to make sure that government unfroze the posts.

“We have an acute shortage of nurses in the hospitals. It is our desire to put a nurse or nurses that are adequate to look after our people in each and every health centre including those farm houses that we have converted to clinics,” he said.

Chimedza said the ministry was currently engaging the Finance ministry on the issue.

He said most nurses go “into the streets” after college and losing the skills that they got after using the government’s resources.

“They lose the skill after three years, they cannot be nurses anymore. They will need to be retrained,” Chimedza said, “So it’s really something that as a ministry we are very worried about. We really want to have all nurses’ posts unfrozen as a matter of urgency for the benefit of this nation.”

Source: All Africa