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Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
A TOTAL of 15 National Assembly members and Senators underwent TB screening, HIV and diabetes testing in Shurugwi on Friday, as part of efforts to encourage the public to get examined for the three related diseases.
The HIV and TB co-infection rate in Zimbabwe is estimated at about 70 percent and TB is considered as the major cause of death among HIV positive patients. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) about 10 percent of global TB cases are linked to diabetes.
The legislators, members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, underwent the tests on the sidelines of the World TB day commemorations at Selukwe Primary School in Shurugwi, Midlands province. Although the lawmakers did not make their results public, they believe the move to be tested in public will help change the mindsets of people and encourage them to get tested.
Chairperson of the parliamentary TB caucus, Dr Paul Chimedza said the move by law makers was meant to demonstrate to the public the importance of testing for the three diseases. Dr Chimedza who is the Zanu-PF MP for Gutu South, said as leaders, the legislators were leading from the in the front the fight against TB and HIV.
“What we wanted to do was to demonstrate what should be done. As opinion leaders we had to walk the talk and we went through all the stages in public and we hope this will inspire people to take these tests,” he said.
Added Dr Chimedza, “If we are to achieve our goal of ending TB by 2025 we need to mobilise people to undergo screening for TB. This year’s theme captures what exactly needs to be done for us to end this scourge.”
MP for Chiwundura constituency (Zanu PF) Cde Kizito Chivamba said the gesture by MPs will help fight the stigma against TB.
MP for Mabvuku Mr James Maridadi (MDC-T), who also underwent the tests, said it was important for people to know their status regarding the three diseases.
Mr Maridadi also bemoaned the lack of adequate domestic funding for the health sector, urging Government to observe the Abuja declaration. The Abuja declaration recommends that governments allocate 15 percent of their annual budgets to health.
World TB day is commemorated annually on 24 March. This year’s belated commemorations were held under the theme;
“Unite to end TB: Leave no one behind”. TB remains a public health threat in Zimbabwe with the country ranked among the 30 TB high burdened countries in the world. The country seeks to end TB 2025.