Maputo, December 7, 2016— Following the approval by the World Bank Board in May of this year of US$122 million worth of financial assistance to tackle the scourge of Tuberculosis (TB) in some of Southern Africa’s high burden TB countries --Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia --the capital of Mozambique hosts today the regional launch for the project. The event represents a milestone in the project’s life-cycle and serves as a summit of policy makers and experts from the above countries, which have demonstrated leadership and interest in working together to explore innovative ways of confronting the Southern Africa’s TB challenge.
Accounting for a third of the world’s countries with highest TB burdens, Southern Africa is at the center of the dual epidemic of TB and HIV/AIDS. Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho and Zambia are no exception. These countries have high levels of TB/HIV coinfections and related mortality as well as increased risks of multidrug-resistant TB against a backdrop of large-scale and growing mining sectors which are a contributor to this health challenge.
“The World Bank recognizes that TB control is a major public health and represents an economic development issue in the sub-region, and therefore needs to be tackled forcefully,” said Mark Lundell, World Bank Country Director for Mozambique. “I’m pleased to note that Southern African leaders have demonstrated the highest level of commitment and leadership towards ending TB. I want to acknowledge the excellent cooperation across health, mining, labor and many other sectors represented here today.”
The project, under the name Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health Systems Support Project targets mining communities, regions with high TB burdens or HIV/AIDS, transport corridors, and cross-border areas of the four target countries. Its primary beneficiaries will be TB-affected individuals and households in line with the World Bank Group’s goals to support the most vulnerable as part of its thrust to ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity in the world.
“Southern Africa is coming together to tackle tuberculosis, one of the greatest global infectious disease challenges,” said Tim Evans, Senior Director of Health Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group. “The innovative approaches and cross country collaboration contained in this project will have important lessons for other regions tackling TB, and will provide a strong foundation to improve health and economic well-being in the region, especially among its most vulnerable citizens.”
The project has three mutually reinforcing components: innovative prevention, detection and treatment of TB; strengthening the region’s capacity for disease surveillance, diagnostics and management; and supporting regional learning and innovation and project management. In Mozambique, for example, the project will specifically build on efforts of the Government and development partners to improve laboratory systems and management of drug-resistant TB. Through this project, Mozambique will develop a regional center for excellence to manage TB and upgrade its laboratory infrastructure systems.
“We cannot end TB by 2030 if we do not step up our efforts where it matters most. We need to reach, test and treat all the vulnerable populations in areas where TB control is the weakest, including mining communities, areas with high HIV incidence, cross-border areas and transport corridors,” said H.E. Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kalolo, the Commissioner for Social Affairs of the African Union Commission. “I commend the Project Countries for their commitment to tackling TB and strengthening health systems, and the World Bank for this bold investment to address TB at its epicentre in Africa”
The project epitomizes the strong commitment of the three countries in working across sectors and borders to address these health challenges. Its preparation benefited from close collaboration with the Global TB Branch, Division of HIV and TB, of the United States Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention which provided technical support. This collaboration is expected to continue during project implementation. The project will also be coordinated with other related national and regional efforts in the sub-region. The design of this project draws on existing country efforts and global lessons in TB control as well as the recent Ebola emergency in West Africa which demonstrated that collaboration and systems building can help countries to better respond to current and new disease threats.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960 helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $19 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.