Remarks by U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Christopher Krafft
Zambia’s Commemoration of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day
Kuku Grounds, Chawama, Lusaka
Friday, March 22, 2019
I am honored to be here with you today to build public awareness of the nearly one-and-a-half million people worldwide who face the devastating effects of tuberculosis (TB) each and every year. In Zambia, TB continues to be a major cause of illness and death, with over 40,000 Zambians infected every year.
Since 2004, the U.S. government has invested over $180 million, or nearly 2.2 billion kwacha, towards fighting TB just in Zambia. On behalf of the American People, this has been accomplished through various U.S. government agencies, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the U.S. Department of State through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Working closely with the Government of the Republic of Zambia, the National TB Control Program, and implementing partners, we have improved case detection and management of TB/HIV co-infection, strengthened laboratory services, and expanded services for multi-drug resistant cases.
We have also seen significant improvements in TB treatment completion. Completion rates increased from 77 percent of patients in 2002 to 88 percent in 2017. This is an important accomplishment, as failure to complete treatment leads directly to the creation of drug-resistant TB strains, making it even more difficult to defeat.
Through our current support, U.S.-supported efforts are working across Zambia to help staff clinics and hospitals, and to train health-care workers in TB detection and management. We are also renovating TB facilities and procuring critical equipment and supplies.
At the same time, together with our partners in Zambia, we are supporting TB operational research to ensure the continued use of evidence-based best practices. Additionally, we have improved TB-case identification by scaling up new diagnostic techniques and strengthening the delivery of TB/HIV integrated services.
I’d like to share with you a story from Mansa Central Clinic in Luapula, that demonstrates our collective efforts to close critical gaps in TB service delivery:
- Until December 2017, clinic staff sent TB samples to the provincial hospital laboratory for diagnosis. The distant location of the hospital lab, combined with a backlog of samples from throughout the province, resulted in test turnaround times of 4 to 7 days.
- Patients at Mansa’s Central Clinic often had to wait for their results at the medical ward or designated TB “waiting shelters”. These delays put others at risk of new infections, and led to dangerous progression of the illness for those already infected.
- In February 2018, USAID, through the Eradicate TB project, procured and installed a GeneXpert diagnostic machine for the Mansa Central Clinic. Today, patients receive their test results within twenty-four hours, leading to prompt initiation of life-saving treatment.
It is this type of progress that we are particularly proud of. We are encouraged by our shared achievements thus far and we look forward to continuing to support Zambia’s fight against TB. Thank you so much for your time today and for welcoming me to this important occasion. Let’s all keep up the good and critically important work in fighting against this insidious disease.