War on infectious diseases gets Sh5.3bn shot in the arm from WHO

21Jul 2018
Correspondent
The Guardian
War on infectious diseases gets Sh5.3bn shot in the arm from WHO

THE World Health Organization (WHO) has donated medicines, equipment and test kits worth $2.4 million (about Sh5.3bn) to control and eliminate infectious diseases including viral hemorrhagic fevers in the country.

WHO Country Representative Adiele Onyenze said at a handover ceremony held in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the donation was  WHO’s continued commitment to the important goals of the government towards relieving the suffering of marginalised communities from the excruciating diseases.

The donated items included scanners, medicines, disposable bags, personal protective gear, Water Guard tablets, safety boots and standard surgical gowns.

The country rep said the kits aimed at ensuring safety from viral disease threats including Ebola while at the same time addressing emergency preparedness and response for such diseases as plague and influenza.

“The kits will contribute significantly to the government's efforts to tackle cholera, malaria and ensure there is monitoring of anti-microbial resistance ((AMR),” he said.

Other kits included those for Immunization in Vaccine Development (IVD) programmes and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs, in particular lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis.

Regarding Ebola preparedness, Onyenze said WHO had continued to build the capacity of neighbouring countries in preventing EVD from the recently reported outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Early detection is a crucial pillar for controlling and containing the disease in the country," he said.

The country representative pointed out that the EVD preparedness had showed that Tanzania had made significant efforts towards strengthening its preparedness for Ebola.

With regard to malaria control and elimination, he noted a steady reduction of reported malaria cases in endemic regions across the country.

According to him, there have also been improvements in the use of long-lasting insecticides treated nets as well as the use of malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs).

“One of the biggest threats overshadowing malaria control and elimination in recent years is anti-malarial drug resistance,” he cautioned.

For his part, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Dr Mpoki Ulisubisya hailed the WHO support, saying it would help to complement the availability of drugs and kits in the country’s hospitals.

The PS added that currently there were 23 scanners in the country, adding that the newly donated scanners would assist the available ones to add value to the fight against Ebola.

“With new scanners, the government will now be able to install scanners at every entry point in the country to improve early detection,” he explained.

The PS added that the donated medicines and equipment were further aimed at controlling emerging diseases including Ebola Virus Diseases (EVD) that the equipment and medicines supplied will enable to control emerging and remerging diseases in the country.

He reiterated government assurance that there had never been reported Ebola cases in the country, noting that even in neighbouring DRC, it had totally been controlled.

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