MASERU - Lesotho is among some Southern African countries moving faster than others with annual declines in new Tuberculosis (TB) cases of four percent to eight percent, World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed. In its call for urgent action to end TB, WHO reveals that other countries rated on the same footing as Lesotho include Eswatini, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and that this is due to better TB and HIV prevention and care.
“Fewer people fell ill and died from TB last year but countries are still not doing enough to end TB by 2030,” warns the WHO lamenting that although global efforts have averted an estimated 54 million TB deaths since 2000, TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease.
WHO’s 2018 Global TB Report released this week on the other hand calls for an unprecedented mobilisation of national and international commitments. It urges political leaders gathering for the first-ever United Nations High-level Meeting on TB to take decisive action, building on recent moves by the leaders of India, the Russian Federation, Rwanda, and South Africa. Nearly 50 Heads of State and Government including Lesotho are expected to attend the meeting.
The Director-General for WHO Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is in a statement quoted as saying he has never seen such high-level political attention and understanding of what the world needs to do to end TB and drug-resistant TB and urges that countries capitalise on this new momentum and act together to end this terrible disease.
To meet the global target of ending TB by 2030, countries need to urgently accelerate their response including by increasing domestic and international funding to fight the disease. The WHO report also provides an overview of status of the epidemic and the challenges and opportunities countries face in responding to it. The status of the TB epidemic such that overall, TB deaths have decreased over the past year.
In 2017, it is reported that there were 1.6 million deaths including among them 300 000 HIV-positive people. The report also reveals that since 2000, a 44 percent reduction in TB deaths occurred among people with HIV compared with a 29 percent decrease among HIV-negative people. Globally, an estimated 10 million people reportedly developed TB in 2017 while the number of new cases is reportedly falling by 2 percent per year, although faster reductions have occurred in Europe by five percent per year and by four percent in Africa between 2013 and 2017.
The Ministry of Health of Lesotho meanwhile recently received Digital Mobile X-Rays under the Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health Systems Support (SATBHSS) Project to improve TB service delivery, especially in the rural communities and find the missing TB cases. The Digital Mobile X-Rays were also delivered to address the national TB prevalence survey that was scheduled to start in July and comprised three Digital Mobile X-Rays consisting of two trucks and one van, all fully equipped with X-ray machines, solar panels and a generator.
Lesotho is over and above rated as being among the 30 High-Burden TB countries in the world, as classified by World Health Organization (WHO) with only 46 percent of TB cases detected in 2017 hence the urge to address the challenge that is said to require finding of the missing TB cases.