It could be recalled that on 26th September 2018 at a high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Heads of States and government assembled at the United Nations in New York for the first time the UN focused on the global TB epidemic, and reaffirmed their commitment to ending TB epidemic by 2030.
Speaking on the theme: “It`s time to End TB”, Prof. Alpha Tejan Wurie highlighted that there could be greater deaths from tuberculosis in relation to Ebola and or HIV.
He reiterated that the figures indicate that they have a daily death toll of 4,500 people and that 30,000 people affected with tuberculosis.
Prof. Wurie informed his audience that with these high figures, it is clear that advocacy most be on the way, and feel committed to the CISMAT presentation that the country has to ensure that they really educate the community about the deadly disease, not to feel stigmatize, how to access treatment and that TB is a curable disease.
He stated that the President Brig. Rtd. Julius Maada Bio take the lead in addressing the forum on TB during the last UN General Assembly, adding that they in the Ministry of Health views the presidential address as a decree to ensure that they end TB before 2030.
The Health Minister disclosed that there are Community Health Centres in the 200 Chiefdoms, adding that their mode for expansion is to have at least two Community Health Centres per chiefdom that can be able to diagnose the disease.
He said celebrating their joint achievements on key building blocks in the fight against TB is most important, adding that his Ministry is committed to scaling up access to integrated prevention and care using a systems building approach to end the TB epidemic.
WHO Officer –in-charge, Mr. Alexander Chimbaru described the theme as an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made in recent years and also on what remains to be done to end the TB scourge in Sierra Leone, Africa and around the World.
He said last year`s World TB Day, the WHO Regional Director called on governments and civil society leaders at all levels to take leadership in combating the TB epidemic in their region.
Mr. Chimbaru stated that to end the epidemic by 2030, they need to ensure universal access to the WHO recommended rapid molecular tests as first-line tests for diagnosis for all presumptive TB cases, as well as to adopt the new WHO recommended drugs and drug combinations for treating drug-resistant TB.
He re-affirmed WHO’s commitment to work with governments, other partners and communities to support the above actions towards ending the TB epidemic by 2030.
Giving an overview of the TB programme, the Programme Manager, National Leprosy and TB Control Programme, Dr. Lynda Foray said as a Ministry, they are treating 17, 169 patients for sensitive TB, and since 2017, they have put on treatment 251 patients to date on Drug Resistant TB.
She disclosed that they have a BSL 3 Laboratory which is the State of the Art and one in a type in West Africa, as it has a fully powered solar system that can work for seven hours after light gone.
Dr. Foray thanked Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and APHL for the laboratory support not only is the laboratory full of equipment, but has a holistic view of how to diagnose and monitor patients, adding that they are gradually building up the capacity of the lab span in the phase like manner.
The Chief Medical Officer and Chairman for the ceremony, Dr. Amara Jambai underscored the importance of World TB Day, stating that the Ministry has done remarkable well and now, they need to move from concept papers to actions and move from objectives to deliverables.
He noted that they have been doing their own individually but found out that they need to integrate, adding that TB over the years has set the pace for integration more specifically on the laboratory aspect.
Cutting of the tape to officially commission the BSL 3 Laboratory and a conducted tour of the facilities climaxed the ceremony.