By Lumbiwe Mwanza
African Young Positive Network (AY+), West Africa board member Aaron Sunday has observed the need for African countries to scale up interventions of closing the gaps in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TB/ HIV co-epidemics.
According to the world health organization WHO 2018 Global TB report, 300, 000 of the total 940,000 global HIV deaths occurred among people infected by both HIV and tuberculosis (TB) mainly due to low rates of testing and diagnosis for both infections at clinics that provide services for the two diseases.
Mr Sunday said that Attaining the global Sustainable Development Goal targets, to end TB and AIDS by 2030 requires stakeholders to jointly implement integrated, community-based responses to reduce the number of TB cases among people with HIV and therefore save lives.
“Ensuring closer collaboration between TB and HIV policy-makers to maximize synergies across the different health system components, including laboratories, human resources, health information, procurement and financing, and civil society engagement can help attain universal health coverage,” Mr Sunday said.
Mr. Sunday further observed that Referral and linkages to treatment services are insufficient for people diagnosed with HIV and TB co-infection.
He added that African countries need to develop and improve on the specific road maps aimed at finding missing TB cases to ensure that information on TB treatment for every TB patient in communities is captured.
“As the global community works to end the TB/ HIV epidemic, the most pressing challenge is that some TB patients each year are either missed or wrongly diagnosed” Mr Sunday explained.
He further revealed that he was wrongly diagnosed with TB and put on treatment which he said was poorly monitored by health care providers.
Mr Sunday said the fight against TB/HIV co-epidemic can best be attained if diagnosis and treatment is effectively coordinated among health care providers.
He further urged researchers to scale up their effort towards finding solutions to TB/HIV infections by embarking on trails that have the potential to reduce the treatment period of HIV/TB.
“One reason TB is so pervasive is that treatment requires a six-month course of daily antibiotics, which is difficult for about half of all patients to adhere to, especially in rural areas with limited access to medical facilities hence the need for researchers to devise new ways to deliver antibiotics,” Mr Sunday said.