VICE President Phelekezela Mphoko yesterday signed the Bulawayo Declaration on HIV-TB and the Barcelona Declaration on TB to demonstrate Government’s political will and commitment to end the two killer diseases by 2030. Speaking in Bulawayo at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair before signing the two documents, Vice President Mphoko said combating the two diseases required the active participation of every citizen.
“HIV and TB have tormented us as a nation for a long time. In fact most countries have headaches because of the two pandemics. I therefore declare that we can beat HIV and TB. We commit that as leaders we will do all to end HIV and TB,” he said.
Part of the document signed in partnership with Members of Parliament, National Aids Council and The Union reads; “I declare that TB has killed a greater number of people than any other infectious disease in human history and continues to be responsible for 1,5 million deaths a year, often affecting the most vulnerable, and that it should be a global political priority.
“That the current rate of progress in combating TB is too slow, such that the disease will remain a threat to the social, economic well being of millions around the world for centuries to come and that accelerating progress against the disease should be recognised by all governments to be in interests of all.”
The two declarations indicate drug-resistant TB demonstrates a collective failure to address the disease properly, imposing an often unbearable burden of treatment on patients and threatening to set back progress against the disease at the grave cost of millions of lives, and that it should be the focus for urgent action.
“I declare that the current drugs for TB are inadequate, that vaccines and diagnostics are insufficient, and that the commercial market for pharmaceutical development had failed TB patients.
“That TB imposes on patients a triple burden, combining the devastating health impact of the disease itself, the harsh burden of treatment and the isolation of social exclusion driven by stigma and fear and that these problems should be addressed holistically by national health programmes.”
Vice President Mphoko and Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa signed the two documents and made a commitment to use all means at their disposal to urge sustained action from Government and partners, to secure the necessary international and domestic resources to combat TB and HIV and to press for prioritisation of the diseases on political agendas.
Dr Parirenyatwa said a third of TB cases are still to be detected in the country, which acts as a reservoir for community transmission.
“HIV-TB co-infections rates have declined from 86 percent in 2009 to 70 percent in 2015, largely due to the effective rollout of ART, TB and CTX (preventative therapy), whose coverage was 72 and 95 percent respectively in 2015,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
“In this regard, I am glad to report that we have made tremendous progress in strengthening HIV-TB integrated services.
“We have established 23 HIV and TB integrated clinics in both urban and rural areas, modelled on the ‘One stop shop’ integrated service provision approach.”
The Barcelona Declaration is the founding document of the Global TB Caucus.
The declaration is open to any political representative in the world to sign and is a demonstration of support and solidarity for efforts to end the TB pandemic.
It is designed to raise the profile of the disease among politicians and is a tool for advocates wishing to engage local decision-makers.