Saturday, 9 September 2017

NEPAD Calls For Multi-Sectoral Approach To Fight TB In Mines

Part of the workshop in Ndola -Picture courtesy of ECSA-HC
By Paul Shalala in Ndola

Mining is a major activity in the most of the countries in Africa.
The mining sector has been a major source of revenue for these countries for over a century.
However, mines come with their own challenges.
Tuberculosis (TB) is one disease which affects most miners.
This is why the World Bank has funded a five year project dubbed Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health System Support Project in four countries.
The Bretton Woods institution has committed US$122 million United States dollars to the project which is being implemented in Zambia, Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique.

The project was launched in the four countries in March this year.

The African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency has called for a multi-sectoral approach to the fight against Tuberculosis in the mining sector.

NEPAD Senior Policy Specialist Chimwemwe Chamdimba says there is need for African countries to take a broader perspective on TB and fight it in the mining industry.

Speaking during a recent workshop in Ndola, Ms Chamdimba said African countries must look at TB as a challenge to productivity and it should be fought hard to help develop their respective countries.
"This community of practice now moves us from looking at TB in our silos to looking at it in the broader sense so that we look at it in the labour part of it, we look at it from the mining point of view, we look at it from the employer's angle and we look at it from the employer's angle. It is from that unique blend that we can tackle this challenge which has been with us for 100 years," said Ms Chimdimba during the opening of the workshop.

The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) also took part in the workshop.

Its representative Dr. Alphonse Mulumba, who is a Senior Programme Officer for HIV and AIDS, said he hoped more SADC members would join hands to fight TB in the mines.

Currently, SADC has 15 member states but the World Bank only selected Zambia, Lesotho, Mozambique and Malawi for the  Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health System Support Project.

"You know that HIV and TB are very much related. The mining sector is very much critical is fueling TB. This meeting is coming in good time and we expect most of the protocols the senior leaders take will bear fruits....... We hope more members states will join this program," said Dr Mulumba.
Among institutions that made presentations during the three day workshop was the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC) which emphasised the need for the region to operationalise the community of practice.

"Once the community of practice is fully functional, it will not only be advisory to the countries but will also offer tangible advise to the countries in order to improve occupational health services," said Dr. Walter Odoch, ECSA-HC Health Systems and Public Health Manager.
Under the Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health System Support Project, Zambia is supposed to host a center of excellence at the Occupational Health and Safety Institute in Kitwe.
During the workshop, the delegates toured the institute to appreciate its challenges.

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