As the world celebrates TB day on Tuesday, civil society and communities working towards a TB-free Ghana, have expressed concern over the fact that many Ghanaians continue to get infected and die of the disease.
They said the TB infection situation is now more complicated by the risks presented by COVID-19 on the nation’s health system and on the economy.
“It’s indeed time to stand in solidarity and with resilience in the fight against these two infectious and deadly diseases”, the CSOs said in a statement to mark the day.
March 24 is globally commemorated as World TB Day, and the spotlight for this year is being focused on the urgent acceleration of the TB response to save lives, and end suffering, building on high level commitments by Heads of State at the 2018 UN High-Level Meeting on TB.
Ghana’s current estimated national TB prevalence, 290 per 100,000 population, shows that the disease burden is four times higher than the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates of 71 per 100,000 population.
Ms Rosemary Mburu, Executive Director of WACI Health, an African regional advocacy organisation, who signed the statement and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, said the CSOs acknowledged that Ghana was making great strides towards ending TB, but much more needed to be done to end TB deaths.
The CSOs, which include Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), Ghana TB Voice Network and the Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN Africa), however, asked President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to scale up access to TB preventive therapy and treatment, ensure sufficient and sustainable financing including for research, as well as to promote an equitable, rights-based and people-centered TB response.
They said the above targets as endorsed by all Member States at the United Nations High Level Meeting (UNHLM) on Tuberculosis held in September 2018, which Ghana participated in, also mandated government to promote an end to stigma and discrimination of TB patients; build accountability; and increase investments for TB research and development.
“Your Excellency, as we commemorate World TB day this year, we call for your courageous leadership towards prioritizing the delivery of the UNHLM targets and TB accountability…
“We remain ready and determined to rally behind you in achieving one of the Big Four Agenda, Universal Health Coverage.
“Specifically, we call upon your government to urgently, close Ghana’s TB programme funding gap of 40 per cent; Accelerate TB response towards reaching the UNHLM targets of 2022”, the CSOs said.
They appealed to government to pay special attention to resources allocated to TB preventive treatment, to ensure the prevention of infection among the most vulnerable populations that included children under five, persons living with HIV and health care workers.
“We, Civil Society Organizations are behind you are looking forward to work with you to realize a Ghana free of TB”, the statement assured.
The GFAN Africa, hosted by WACI Health, in Nairobi, Kenya, unites voices and efforts from all over Africa to support successful replenishments of the Global Fund to fight Tuberculosis, AIDS, and Malaria.
It also mobilizes countries to increase their allocation of domestic resources for health to ensure sustainable healthcare financing.