World TB Day Press Statement

Students And Youth Working on reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) joins the rest of the globe to commemorate the World TB Day. This year the TB Day is observed under the theme: Yes! We Can End TB.  This theme highlights the importance of collective action towards ending TB.

Our calling to see generations of healthy and TB free students and young people across the African continent is reflective of our 20th anniversary that we are celebrating this year. As we go down the memory lane, we commemorate strides that’s the students and young people have made with regards to improved TB related health seeking behaviors. We also take this opportunity to applaud government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s efforts to mitigate the impact of TB amongst our young people and students.

For students in tertiary institutions such as universities and colleges, the theme “Yes! We Can End TB” means that we all have a role to play in ending TB. As young people, we have the energy, creativity, and passion to drive change and make a difference. By taking action towards ending TB, we can protect ourselves, our families, and our communities from this disease.

TB is a bacterial infection that can affect any part of the body, but it most commonly affects the lungs. It is spread from one person to another through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms of TB include coughing, chest pain, fever, and fatigue. If left untreated, TB can be fatal.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, with an estimated 1.5 million deaths in 2020. In Southern Africa, TB is a major public health problem, with high rates of TB and TB/HIV co-infection. In Zimbabwe, TB remains a significant health challenge, with an estimated 30,000 new cases of TB each year.

As we commemorate World TB Day, we call on donors to support efforts to end TB, particularly among students and young people. It is important for students at tertiary institutions to access TB screening and treatment services, as they are at risk of contracting TB due to their close proximity to each other. Tertiary institutions should take proactive measures to protect students from contracting TB, such as providing screening and treatment services on campus. The same services should also be extended to communities at popular centers where young people gather.

We also appeal to the Zimbabwean government to leave no one behind in the fight against TB with a bias towards students and young people. Vision 2030 is more meaningful and realizable with students and youth across the board accessing TB screening and treatment services in time. The government should allocate resources towards TB prevention and treatment, particularly among vulnerable populations.

The Parliament of Zimbabwe equally has an oversight duty to remind Treasury to prioritise capacitating tertiary education institutions in Zimbabwe with adequate resources to enable them to respond to TB. 

Finally, we call on civil society organizations to support students and young people’s initiatives to fight TB. Through partnerships and collaborations, we can work towards ending TB and creating a healthier and more equitable world.

We have the power to make a difference in the fight against TB. Let us all take action towards ending TB, and together, we can achieve a TB-free world.

Students and young people who need TB screening services or treatment are encouraged to call the SAYWHAT call centre on 577 for more information.

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