by Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Countries in sub-Saharan Africa should prioritize new investments in diagnostic equipments, case management and public awareness to reduce the burden of tuberculosis (TB), policymakers said Tuesday.
They told a forum in Nairobi that innovative financing options were an imperative in order to revitalize the war against TB that has surpassed HIV/AIDS to become a leading killer in Africa.
Principal Secretary in Kenya's Ministry of Health Nicholas Muraguri said at the forum that shrinking budgetary allocation, incoherent policies and competing priorities could reverse gains made in the war against TB in Africa.
"Our continent has a disproportionate burden of tuberculosis that has mainly been fueled by HIV/AIDS and poverty. We must therefore increase investments in prevention and management of the disease," Muraguri said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) contends that Africa accounts for 25 percent of the global TB burden while 16 out of 30 TB high-burden countries are found in the continent.
Muraguri stressed that political goodwill coupled with smart investing and robust public awareness is key to reinvigorate TB control programs in Africa.
Kenya is among five African countries with the highest burden of tuberculosis but state-led interventions have in the last decade averted half a million deaths thanks to increased funding towards TB diagnoses and treatment.
Eliud Wandwalo, senior coordinator for TB at the Geneva based Global Fund, said funding agencies have prioritized investments in homegrown programs to reduce the burden of tuberculosis in Africa.
He revealed that Sub-Saharan Africa would receive the bulk of the 1.8 billion U.S. dollars the Global Fund has set aside to combat tuberculosis globally in the next two years.