Tanzania commemorates World TB Day 2013 and launches national operational guidelines for engaging NGOs and CSOs in TB control.

The Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare delivering the press release
The Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare delivering the press release

This year, the United Republic of Tanzania commemorated the World TB Day by holding a press conference and officially launching the national operational guidelines for engaging Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the TB control activities in the country.
The press conference held on 22nd March, 2013 at the Ministry of Health premises, was attended by the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Seif Rashid, the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Mrs. Regina Kikuli, the World Health Organization Representative, Dr. Rufaro Chatora, Ministry of Health officials, WCO staff and members of the media.

The Deputy Minister began his address to the nation by announcing the theme for World TB Day 2013 to be “Stop TB in our lifetime”, a theme that calls unto people of all ages to engage in stopping TB.
In his remarks, the Deputy Minister described the current statistics reflecting the TB burden in the country and stated that despite the country reaching the geographical DOTs coverage of 100% and treatment success rate of 89%, TB case detection rate remains at 77% (NTLP, 2011). He added that one-third of people estimated to have TB are not detected as they are not reached by the current health delivery system and program interventions.

Challenges facing TB control initiatives in the country were also highlighted to include:

  • Inadequate access for TB care
  • Poor reporting of TB cases
  • Delayed medical seeking behaviour
  • Inadequate implementation of infection control measures in health facilities and other congested areas
  • Inadequate community awareness on TB and its control
  • Prolonged hospitalisation for Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR TB) treatment in the first six months of intensive phase
  • Inadequate collaboration between the National TB Programme (NTP) and NGOs/CSOs

The press release discussed the government’s response to the TB control challenges including the current adoption of the WHO’s ENGAGE-TB approach that seeks to broaden the number of organizations engaging in integrated TB/HIV and community-based TB activities.

The ENGAGE-TB operational guidelines describe the community-based actions and collaboration process that need to be undertaken by NGOs and CSOs to strengthen their engagement in community-based TB activities. The guidelines also identify two core indicators for measuring the contribution of community-based activities to key TB outcomes; TB case detection and Treatment success rates. The Deputy Minister commended the 21 NGOs that have committed to implement the ENGAGE-TB Approach in collaboration with the NTP and WHO including: T-Marc, HelpAge International, ELCT-DMP, Watoto Salama, Care International, Pathfinder, World Vision, AMREF, PSI and MEWATA.

As a gesture of appreciation for WHO’s support, the Deputy Minister handed over the ENGAGE-TB national operational guidelines to the WHO Representative, Dr. Rufaro Chatora and officially launched the nation-wide World TB Day commemorations