The National Tuberculosis & Leprosy Programme external review begins in the United Republic of Tanzania

The WHO Representative, Dr. Rufaro Chatora, delivering welcome remarks at the meeting
The WHO Representative, Dr. Rufaro Chatora, delivering welcome remarks at the meeting

On 17th of February, 2014, the United Republic of Tanzania officially launched the review of the fourth (4th) National Tuberculosis Strategic Plan (2009-15) in Dar es Salaam.

The launch was presided by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Donan Mmbando; the Ag. Director of Preventive Services, Dr. Neema Rusibamayila; Senior Programme Officers from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the National TB and Leprosy Programme in Mainland and Zanzibar; Regional and District TB & Leprosy Coordinators; Representatives from TACAIDS, NACP and NIMR; the World Health Organization Representative for Tanzania, Dr. Rufaro Chatora; WHO staff from the Country, Regional/IST-ESA and Headquarters Offices; Development Partners including Representatives from the UNAIDS, USAID, the Global Fund, the CDC and members of the media.

In his welcome remarks, the WHO Representative, Dr. Rufaro Chatora, said, “the National TB & Leprosy Strategic Plan provides an overview of priority strategic directions for both TB and Leprosy control in the country guided by the national and global initiatives such as the Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP) III, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Global Plan to STOP TB”. He emphasized that the outcomes of the review will inform the remaining stretch of the Plan, the Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP) IV under development and the Global Fund application processes. He concluded by urging the teams of experts to use the opportunity to document important lessons that can contribute towards improvement of TB and Leprosy control in the country.

In his opening remarks, the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Donan Mmbando, congratulated the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme for its achievements over the years including the geographical Direct Observed Treatment (DOTs) for Tuberculosis coverage of 100%, the treatment success rate of 89%, the introduction of fixed dose combination (FDC), the Patient Centered TB treatment and the recent implementation of the National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey. He added, “While we celebrate these achievements, we are also cognizant of the challenges that still face TB control initiatives in the country. These include: Inadequate access for TB care, poor reporting of TB cases, the rise of TB resistant strains and difficulties in diagnosis of MDR TB, the high cost of Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR TB) treatment”. He concluded by urging the teams of experts to use the review exercise to reflect on the possible solutions to the posed challenges. He said “the review is timely as the country makes its final lap towards the Millennium Development Goals which promote health for all”.

The opening remarks were followed by presentations on the: Overview of NTLP and progress of implementation of the current strategic plan; Progress of implementation of Community TB Care; TB Prevalence Survey findings; NTLP Financing; and NTLP Review Plan, Tools and Logistical arrangements.

Over the course of two weeks, the review team will visit 31 districts in Mainland and Zanzibar and review the status of implementation of the TB and Leprosy Programme from the national to the health facility level focusing on:

- Programme management and Governance

- TB DOTS implementation

- Community-based TB care

- TB/HIV including infection control

- Health System Strengthening

- Public-Private Partnerships

- Leprosy elimination