Targeted screening campaign aims to reduce TB in mining populations in Zimbabwe

The Union has started an active screening campaign for high-risk groups in 18 districts in Zimbabwe, including miners – who have some of the highest incidences of tuberculosis (TB) in the world.

The Union Zimbabwe Office began screening activities recently in Shurugwi district, one of the 18 mining districts targeted. Office staff spoke with traditional community leaders including chiefs, headmen, councillors and religious leaders about TB during a community discussion forum as part of the first stage of the larger outreach effort in the country.

Community leaders learned about TB signs and symptoms, treatment and stigma and pledged to support the efforts by educating their communities, encouraging open dialogue and sharing information on how and when to seek treatment.

Leaders also committed to support the targeted screening campaign currently underway, by encouraging members of their communities to take advantage of the services being provided. Services include chest X-rays, medical check-ups, HIV testing and diabetes screening, as well as informative workshops and meetings.

World TB Day commemorations were also held in Shurugwi as part of the campaign. Community members, government officials and public health and policy workers attended the event, held belatedly on 31 March.

Union staff offered free testing for TB, diabetes and HIV at a mobile clinic. Thirteen Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Zimbabwe TB Caucus, formed through support from The Union, attended the event and were screened for TB publicly, in an effort to raise awareness and combat TB stigma.

The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenytwa, spoke to attendees and formally thanked The Union and Zimbabwe Office Director Dr Christopher Zishiri, acknowledging The Union’s role in the fight against TB in the country.

The Union will continue screening mining communities in the other districts throughout the year.

These activities are part of Challenge TB in Zimbabwe, the United States Agency for International Development’s flagship TB programme.