• Dr Bekezela Khabo and Dr Ann Sellberg

Keeping the promise: World Tuberculosis Day 2021


According to WHO, Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers. Each day, nearly 4000 lose their lives to TB and close to 28,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. On World TB Day, WHO calls on everyone to keep the promise to accelerate the End TB Response to reach the targets set in Sustainable Development Goals, WHO End TB Strategy, the Moscow Declaration to End TB and the political declaration of the UN High-Level Meeting on TB. The clock is ticking, and the time to act is now.

This year’s TB Day is casting the spotlight on systematic screening for TB disease. Systematic screening for TB disease is the systematic identification of people at risk for TB disease like people living with HIV, in a predetermined target group, by assessing symptoms and using tests, examinations or other procedures that can be applied rapidly. Systematic screening can benefit people who are at risk of getting TB, as early detection and start of treatment can improve their outcomes and reduce their costs. It can also benefit entire communities at higher risk for TB, by reducing the prevalence of TB disease and preventing in the future, people from falling ill with TB.

With this in mind, our Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters (CATS) in Zimbabwe have been actively involved with screening children, adolescents and young people living with HIV (CAYPLHIV) for TB. In 2020 alone, our 1,328 trained and mentored CATS screened clients within the Zvandiri programme, and referred 910 for further investigation. Nine percent of these were eventually diagnosed with TB and put on treatment. Among CAYPLHIV screened for TB and without symptoms suggestive of TB, our CATS referred 574 who were then commenced on TB preventive treatment (TPT) - see our 2020 infographic.

In 2021, Zvandiri is aiming to further build the capacity of our CATS to not only screen for TB and refer as appropriate, but to also help create demand for new innovations such as 3HP, and SHORTER MDR-TB treatment regimens - watch this space for more!



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