Swaziland Unites to End TB

Janet Ongole

Director of KM & M&E, Swaziland, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

For World TB Day, Swaziland united to end TB by mobilizing mobile clinics to screen for TB and HIV

This year, Swaziland chose to commemorate World TB Day on the 19th of March 2016 in the Lubombo region under the Lugongololweni Inkhundla at SOS Children’s Village Kalanga. The theme this year was,  “United to End TB”. The event kicked off with a march from Kutsala and Budvodza Abukhulelwa. The march from Kutsala was led by the Royal Swaziland Police Band (RSP) and the one from Budvodza Abukhulelwa was led by Umbutfo Defence Force and His Majesty Correction Force. Banners with different messages were displayed during the march.

Free TB screening and HIV testing services were provided on-site with mobile outreach clinics managed by volunteer nurses and doctors. Patients were provided with TB screening, HIV testing and counselling and also treatment of minor ailments. This called for the participation of the national sample transportation vehicle to be available on-site. As such, the Swaziland health laboratory services, together with the National TB program allocated the vehicle which was on-site to collect lab samples and transport to the laboratory for processing.

The World TB event brought together high-level officials, including Swaziland’s Minister of Health, Senator Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane; the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr. Tigest Ketsela Mengestu; Members of Parliament; Community Chiefs; and other officials from the Ministry of Health. This showcased the high political commitment towards TB control and ending TB in Swaziland.

In a keynote address, Senator Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane started by acknowledging the help that Swaziland is being given by the donors. She emphasised that everyone should be screened for TB. She also talked about the 90-90-90 strategy currently used by the health sectors to fight the dual epidemic of TB and HIV. What was most inspiring, was to hear that every chiefdom will have a volunteer placed for three years to screen those who are exposed to TB—especially those who live with TB patients. To improve access to TB care and treatment, a mobile clinic will be placed in communities to assist the decentralisation effort. Ms. Mengistu added that new tools and drugs are being developed to improve TB diagnosis and treatment, renewing the hope that united, Swaziland can end the TB epidemic.

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