African Health Ministers reaffirm joint determination to regain impact on TB

African Health Ministers reaffirm joint determination to regain impact on TB

  •  Pledge to minimize  impact of COVID-19 on TB services

          

African Health Ministers at the recently concluded 33rd ‘Stop TB Partnership’ Board Meeting  held virtually on November 18-20 have reaffirmed their joint determination and collective efforts to regain impact on TB and revitalize efforts towards saving lives

The ministers restated their commitments in a joint statement issued after the High Level Roundtable  with the theme: “TB Response in the African Region: Unprecedented Actions for Unprecedented Times” held in  collaboration with The African Union, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health.

The statement  noted that  an unprecedented global health emergency, caused by COVID-19 pandemic, has jeopardized the results achieved in saving millions of lives and providing access to essential TB care and prevention.

“In spite of all efforts, health systems resources are overstretched due to COVID-19 response, leading to serious disruptions in the functioning and access to TB diagnosis, treatment and prevention services. Globally, these disruptions could result in an additional 6.3 million people developing tuberculosis and 1.4 million deaths between 2020 and 2025.”

The ministers also  noted a setback towards the attainment of the 2022 UNHLM targets and commitments as  “financing of COVID-19 mitigation measures, coupled with economic slowdown, has diminished governments’ ability to meet domestic funding commitments for tuberculosis, the world’s top infectious disease killer.”

They however reaffirmed  their joint determination and collective efforts “to regain impact on TB, ensure access to essential care and prevention and revitalize efforts towards saving lives.

“While we applaud each other countries’ individual accomplishments in addressing TB, this Joint Ministerial Statement aims to accelerate the alleviation of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, through an inclusive, multisectoral and action-driven TB response,” the statement said.

The Ministers resolved to maintain and increase domestic financing for TB “Pursuant to the united vision and shared solidarity to recover the impact of TB and accelerate towards the targets of the Political Declaration during the UN High-Level Meeting in September 2018 (UNGA) as well as the African Union Catalytic Framework to End HIV/AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria by 2030 targets, and to address the existing and projected TB funding gaps, secure sustainable domestic financing and strengthen the national programs”

 They pledged to work towards increasing investments in TB response by:

  • Increasing domestic budget allocation to national TB programs;
  • exploring innovative financing initiatives – including public private partnerships, subsidized and incentivized loans and grants from development banks;
  • advocating for research and develop of innovative techniques in the diagnosis and treatment of TB;
  • considering opportunities for integrating TB and Covid-19 responses, such as in testing, tracing and airborne infection control in health facilities;
  • meeting the Global Fund’s funding requirements on co-financing;
  • ensuring that TB and drug-resistant TB are included in essential care package under existing or planned social health insurance schemes;
  • strengthening south-south learning and knowledge exchange on management of tuberculosis, in particular MDR-TB and childhood-TB between African Countries and other high burden countries; and
  • strengthening efforts on advocacy for increased funding for health to effectively respond to communicable diseases with key emphasis on TB that has mostly been underfunded.

“We, the Ministers of health are determined to work together to minimize the impact of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on TB services and programming. We affirm the importance of putting in place key actions for implementation that are tailored to the context of our countries,” the statement further said.

Countries represented at the High Level Roundtable include Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.

 

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