Zanzibar, 24 March 2018: The World TB Day was commemorated in Zanzibar with a theme “Wanted: Leaders for a TB Free World”. The day is commemorated annually on the 24th of March 2018 to increase public awareness and harness political support and leadership to combat TB.
The event was graced with marching band, community engagement and high level government officials joining for the walk and the gathering that culminated at the old House of Representatives in Zanzibar. During the occasion the Minister of Health, Honorable Hamad Rashid Mohamed, indicated the need for various sectors, the community and local leaders to work together to end TB. He emphasized the need for the public to go for health check-up and comply with taking the medications as instructed by the health workers. He said partnership within and outside Zanzibar is the key for ending TB and other diseases.
Dr. Andemichael Ghirmay representing WHO said that 53 million lives have been saved in the past decade and half and TB incidence is declining at about 2% per year, however this is not enough to reach the regional and global targets of ending TB by 2030. We need a 4-5% annual reduction to achieve the targets and save more lives as TB still continues to be one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide with 4,500 TB related deaths every day and nearly 1.7 million deaths every year.
He continued, indicating that every fourth (25%) new TB case is from Africa, which has 16 of the top 30 countries with the highest TB burden in the world. Every third (33%) case of HIV-associated TB is from our Region. Drug resistant TB continues to pose a serious challenge with 490,000 people with Multi-Drug Resistant TB in 2016.
He reminded the audience that following the World Health Assembly adoption of End TB Strategy in May 2014, countries in the African Region agreed to reduce TB deaths by 75% and new TB cases by 50% by 2025. To attain these new targets, countries and partners need to intensify efforts to reach, treat and cure everyone with TB, and particularly the poorest and most vulnerable people who are disproportionately affected by TB.
Finally he concluded his remarks by reminding the theme for the day, “Wanted: Leaders for a TB Free World” and that he is confident that Zanzibar has those leaders. He said together we will attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target of ending TB epidemic by 2030.