One third of the world’s TB burden is in Southern Africa. Addressing this problem requires breaking silos and working across national borders. NEPAD Agency and East Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC) organized an interactive satellite session on the sidelines of the 5th South Africa TB Conference in Durban, South Africa on 13 June to increase synergies of innovative regional efforts to tackle the TB burden.
During the session, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia and Zimbabwe shared experiences on their respective Centres of Excellence (CoE) in TB control implemented under the Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health Systems Support (SATBHSS) project. Opening the session, ECSA-HC Director General, Prof. Yoswa Dambisya bemoaned the burden of TB in the region.
“Southern Africa has the highest number of TB cases, and the highest number of missing TB cases,” Prof. Dambisya said.
Prof. Dambisya briefly outlined the work ECSA-HC is doing to assist countries in East and Southern Africa to address the TB burden. He stressed the importance of improving the diagnostic capacity for TB in Africa and also strengthening TB reference laboratories.
Dr Llang Bridget Maama-Maime presented challenges and successes of the implementation of TB care for cross-border miners and also the importance of digital mobile X-rays for improving community TB care in Lesotho. Mr Isaias Dambe from Malawi focussed on how the country is innovatively integrating mobile technology for increased detection of missing TB cases through the e-Health system that has been rolled out. Dr Fwasa Singogo highlighted the lessons learnt in addressing Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) challenges through legislative reforms in Zambia, with particular focus mining.
Mozambique brought attention to decentralizing the management of Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR-TB) through a presentation made by Dr Ivan Manhica. All the countries are establishing CoEs in these specific areas that will benefit the region as a whole and serve as specialized areas of knowledge. A representative from the Healthcare Associated TB Infection Prevention Project (HATIPP) Zimbabwe, Dr Junior Mutsvangwa shared their experiences and insights on early TB detection and treatment, as well as the need to address the occupational risk of TB among healthcare workers.
Representing NEPAD Agency and also Chair of the session, Chimwemwe Chamdimba, the Principal Programme Officer – Policy Specialist, reminded participants about the importance of effective collaboration and strong partnerships to hasten synergies in a multi-dimensional manner. She highlighted the need to strengthen disease surveillance to effectively address the TB burden across national boundaries in a globalized world with increased immigration.
The satellite session concluded with a panel discussion involving representatives from the TB in the Mines (TIMS) project, World Bank (WB), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ex-TB Miners Association.