33% of TB cases remain undetected in Zambia and the Ministry of Health has set a target of reducing TB prevalence by at least 35% by 2020. In order to achieve this, there is need to secure commitment from the leaders, and double efforts and resources to close the funding gap in TB screening, diagnosis and treatment. Responding to this need, 75 parliamentarians have registered and launched the Zambia chapter of the parliamentary caucus on TB. The caucus will advocate for increased funding towards eradicating TB, among others.
The national parliamentary caucus is critical in the fight against TB in Zambia and occupies a key role in convening and coordinating various stakeholders and using the influence of their parliamentary members to hold Ministers and Heads of State to account. This process of establishing the parliamentary caucus in Zambia was spearheaded by Community Initiative for TB, HIV/AIDS and Malaria Plus Related Diseases (CITAMPlus) is in line with the unique global network of parliamentarians united by a shared commitment to end the TB epidemic.
The official launch was graced by second Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia Hon. Mwimba Malama and Minister of Health Hon. Dr Chitalu Chilufya. Hon. Dr Chitalu Chilufya commended MPs for being part of the campaign to make Zambia free of TB and for prioritizing the health of the Zambian people.
“Parliamentarians know the corners of their constituencies and will ensure that people are educated about the TB epidemic to meet the 2030 vision of eradicating TB permanently”, Hon. Dr Chilufya said.
Honourable Mwimba Malama commended CITAMplus for spearheading the formation of the parliamentary caucus in Zambia and its resilient fight against TB and the involvement of parliamentarians. He said that the caucus will leverage global and regional caucuses on Tuberculosis to meet its objectives. CITAMPlus Executive Director, Carol Kachenga echoed the words of Mr Malama and said her organization gave itself the mandate to set up and host the TB Caucus Secretariat as one of the many ways to fight TB.
Dr. Christopher Kalila, MP and the interim Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health said the parliamentary participation will ensure lives of people were spared as TB had consequences on the general population.
United Nations (UN) Goodwill Ambassador, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, who was present during the official launch of the Zambia parliamentary caucus on TB, bemoaned the number of people dying from preventable and curable diseases such as TB. She emphasized the importance of domestic funding in sustaining the fight against TB as opposed to reliance on donor funds.
“Africa is blessed with resources that can be used to improve the lives of its people”, she said.
The official launch was attended by 169 participants who included; the co-chair of Africa TB Caucus Hon. Stephen Mule MP Kenyan Parliament, UN Goodwill Ambassador Yvonne Chaka Chaka, 39 Zambian parliamentarians, media house representatives, development partners, Ministry of Health officials, current and former TB patients, civil society representatives, consultants, and musicians to mention a few.