NAIROBI, (The Southern African Times) – The attainment of the tuberculosis elimination goal among high-burden African countries will only be possible subject to robust investments in prevention, and diagnostic and treatment tools, an expert said on Thursday.
Lucica Ditiu, executive director of Stop TB Partnership, an international health lobby, said African nations and their partners must tackle financing bottlenecks to rejuvenate the fight against the highly contagious bacterial disease.
“Overall, TB funding in Africa falls short compared to the huge disease burden and associated deaths,” Ditiu said in a statement released in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, on World TB Day.
She said governments should invest in early diagnosis and active case tracing, treatment therapy for vulnerable groups like factory workers and slum dwellers in order to limit the negative impact of TB on public health infrastructure.
Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that Africa is home to 17 out of the 30 high-burden TB countries globally, and that 2.5 million cases reported in the continent in 2020 accounted for a quarter of the global burden.
Annually, the sub-Saharan African region requires at least 1.3 billion U.S. dollars to cater for TB prevention and treatment, but countries contribute only 22 percent of the budget, with external lenders contributing 34 percent, according to the WHO.
Ditiu said under-funding has compromised TB diagnosis, treatment and care in Africa, leading to loss of lives.
She said Africa reported about 549,000 deaths from the disease in 2020, 2,000 more than in 2019.
Ditiu challenged governments, industry and multilateral lenders to ramp up investments in surveillance, early warning, research for new vaccines and therapeutics, in order for the continent to become TB-free.
The World TB Day, which is celebrated on March 24 every year, seeks to raise awareness on the devastating impact of the disease to public health systems and economies.