Eritrea commemorated World TB Day on the 23rd March 2019 in Gash Barka region, Barentu city, with the theme “It is time to end TB”. Millions of people continue to fall sick with TB each year and it is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
Strong political commitment, community-based health system and high community engagement in Eritrea significantly backed to declining burden of TB. The country is implementing the global recommended TB control strategies and services which are provided in public, non-governmental and non-profit private health facilities. Since the implementation of the strategies, many TB cases have been identified and treated successfully, and many more lives were saved. In Eritrea, everyone, everywhere in the country have free access to treatment and management of TB without financial difficulties.
Speaking at the event, the Regional Medical Director of Gash Barka at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Hayelom Kidane said that despite the availability of interventions to fight against TB, there are TB cases which were not detected in the country. Dr. Hayelom emphasized the need for early detection and treatment because many people with TB were diagnosed late leading to treatment failures. He urged people to seek early diagnosis and treatment for TB, adherence to the Direct Observed Treatment (DOTS), and intensify active case detection and contact tracing. He also appreciated the support which has been provided by WHO.
On behalf of WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti and representing WHO Representative to Eritrea, Dr Josephine Namboze, Dr. Theodros Tekeste, HP/Officer read a message that the disease burden caused by TB is falling globally in all WHO regions and in most countries. However, not fast enough to reach the first milestones of the end TB Strategy in 2020, he added. He also indicated that efforts must be made to identify and remove the challenges that are slowing down progress, as well as to adopt and roll out the most cost-effective policy options and interventions. He re-affirmed the commitment of WHO/AFRO and WHO-Eritrea in the country to work with Government of the state of Eritrea, other partners and communities to support actions towards ending TB epidemic by 2030, if not earlier.
Furthermore, Zonal administrator, Mr. Mohamed Ali assured to continue to inform, educate and mobilize the communities to maximize their involvement in the fight against TB, community TB care and prevention through strengthening Community Health Workers in collaboration with MOH, and partners for the realization to end TB.
At the commemoration, Zonal administrator, Zonal Medical Director, Zonal senator, higher officials from ministry of Defense, PFDJ chair person, zonal chairwoman for National Union of Eritrean Women, officials from local government, Health professionals, Students, community and religious leaders were present.
General knowledge contest, banners, songs, drama and posters displayed at the event made the event more entertaining, educative and attractive. Prizewinners of the general knowledge contest were awarded prizes.