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Govt applauds SA on TB

Limpho Sello

THE government of Lesotho has applauded the Southern African TB Health System Support (SATBHSS) for assisting in widening the country’s scope in addressing the tuberculosis epidemic in the mining sector.

Speaking during a three-day SATBHSS Regional Advisory Committee meeting held in Maseru, last week, the Deputy Minister of Health, Manthabiseng Phohleli, said through the project, the government has made great strides in implementing interventions at local level.

The SATBHSS project is also implemented in Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi where a multi sectoral approach was adopted to ensure the participation of ministries including Health, Labour and Employment and Mining Development; and other actors.

It receives technical support from the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and other international partners working to end TB.

The project targets under-served or vulnerable populations with a high TB and/or TB and HIV burden, such as mining communities, transport corridors, cross-border areas and health care workers. It focuses on three key components namely: Innovative Prevention, Detection and Treatment of TB; Regional Capacity for Disease Surveillance, Diagnostics, and Management of TB and Occupational Lung Diseases; and Regional Learning and Innovation.

“Through the SATBHSS project, the Ministry of Health here in Lesotho was able to enhance occupational health and safety through various efforts including putting in place the required pieces of legislation. The initiative’s multi-sectorial approach is key in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the World Health Organization (WHO) End TB targets by 2030,” Ms Phohleli said.

Lesotho has the highest TB incidents at 724 cases per 100,000 people. One of the most affected groups are miners, former miners, their families and their communities.

However, Deputy Minister Phohleli said, in addition to work already done, new innovative approaches will be introduced, such as establishing Centers for Excellence in Occupational Health and Safety, Community TB Care as well as the Multi Drug Resistance-TB (MDR-TB).

“These innovations will enable the countries participating in this project to enhance their local TB programmes and to take a lead in the fight against TB in the Southern Africa region.

“I’m also grateful for the support we are receiving, which aims to improve Monitoring and Evaluation and Research, Laboratory Support, and Disease Surveillance and Continuum of care. All these efforts will help to strengthen capacity in our respective countries in addressing TB, MDR-TB, HIV and Occupational Lung diseases that affect miners, former miners, their families and the mining communities,” Ms Phohleli said.

She said the project will facilitate the seamless transition of the ongoing TB in the Mining Sector in Southern Africa (TIMS) project, which will continue to empower communities and ensure that the miners who suffer occupational diseases are compensated,” she said.

“Importantly, the project will ensure that regulations are in place to create safe working environment for miners and help to improve occupational health services. This would ensure we have healthy miners working to improve our economies.”


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