So how can the burden of this disease be addressed in Africa? Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, NEPAD Agency CEO has pointed out the urgent need to increase domestic resources to fund interventions to end TB in Africa. Dr Mayaki was speaking at the Africa side event on the margins of the first ever United Nations High Level Meeting on Ending TB (UNHLMTB) in New York, USA on 25 September 2018.
“The fight to end tuberculosis must be looked at in the broader context of inequality and our efforts must be repositioned in this perspective. Addressing the inequality gap will help to advance the fight to eliminate TB in Africa”, Dr Mayaki said.
The Africa side event was titled ‘United to end tuberculosis in Africa: a continental response’ with the aim to galvanise commitment by leaders at the highest level of government, private sector and civil society on innovative regional collaboration towards ending the burden TB in Africa.
African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, H.E. Amira El Fadil indicated that political will to end TB in Africa exists as evidenced by the decision by African Union Member States to adopt the Common Africa Position (CAP) on ending tuberculosis. She echoed the words of Dr Mayaki on the need to increase domestic resources for sustainability purposes. H.E. Amira El Fadil reminded participants that despite positive progress, Africa still struggles with issues of affordability and accessibility of medicines, especially among vulnerable communities.
Dr Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Health of Zambia, said that calls to end the burden of TB in Africa must be matched with appropriate investment in strengthening health systems. He further said that, “There are a lot of missing TB cases in most African countries that we don’t even know about.
Hence, we cannot underestimate the urgency of escalating preventative measures, increasing awareness and sensitisation campaigns in the most vulnerable hard to reach areas, as well as investment in the right infrastructure to increase coverage so that we can strengthen TB screening, diagnosis and successfully treatment. It is time to go beyond rhetoric to invest in appropriate public health interventions that will bring us a lot of gains in the fight to eliminate the burden of TB in Africa,” the Minister said.
The Africa side event was moderated by global musical icon and NEPAD Agency Goodwill Ambassador for tuberculosis and nutrition, Yvonne Chaka Chaka. She stated that now is the time to walk the talk on the fight to end TB in Africa. Yvonne Chaka Chaka moderated discussions focussing on the importance of multi-country collaboration on the fight against TB in Africa and the value in establishing strategic partnerships, financing and accountability.
Yvonne Chaka Chaka closed the Africa side event in style with a beautiful rendition of her song whose words strike a nerve in every sphere of life and reflect on the values and principles of ‘Ubuntu.’