GOVERNMENT has commended the World Bank for giving Zambia U$45 million to combat tuberculosis (TB) in the country.
Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya says the World Bank is a developmental partner with the Zambian government because it is dedicated to eradicate the levels of TB on the Copperbelt and other mining communities in the country.
Speaking during the launch of the Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health System Support Project held at Sherbourne Hotel today, Dr Chilufya said it was unfortunate that the Copperbelt has the highest number of TB cases which normally emanates from the pollutant substances from mining activities.
The Health Minister saidas a result of heavy mining activities and other mining communities in the country has led to an increase of TB related cases owing to the high levels of pollutant emissions from the mines known as Sulphur-dioxide.
Out of 100 000 people on the Copperbelt 1211 are infected with TB a situation.
Dr Chilufya said government is committed to ensure that tuberculosis was eradicated on the Copperbelt and other parts of the country.
He furthermore revealed that the World Bank in collaboration with Zambia, Lesotho, Mozambique and Malawi has approved and initiated a regional project for the four countries in Southern Africa which is called The Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health Systems Support Project.
The Health Minister also gave a directive to the director of Occupational Health and safety Institute to engage colleagues from other ministries to draft a document on the law to protect the workers who have TB not the archaic laws which discriminate people with TB.
Meanwhile Minister of Labour Joyce Nonde Simukoko has cautioned some mining houses in the country and other companies who have a tendency of discriminating people with TB to stop doing so.
Mrs Simukoko said people with TB should not be sidelined by their employers because they have the right to work because TB is a curable disease.
She said the health of Workers was cardinal for every employee despite having the condition of TB and the employers in various sectors of the economy should embrace them because human capital is important to the growth of the country.
And Speaking at the same function World Bank health Specialist Ronald Mutasa said in a speech read for the Country representative Ina Marlene Ruthenberg said the World Bank has a total financial commitment of US$122 Million and will support some of Southern Africa’s high TB burden countries such as Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.
Ms Ruthenberg said the World Bank support to the Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health Systems Support project, is in recognition of efforts by policy makers and political leadership in the SADC.
“In Zambia, the key implementing agencies for the Southern Tuberculosis and Health Systems Support project will be the ministry of Health, Ministry of Mines, Ministry of Labour and Occupational Health and Safety Institute (OHSI).