Sunday, April 27, 2014 

Uganda Tuberculosis infections declining

KAMPALA, Uganda - The number of Ugandans estimated to have Tuberculosis (TB) has sharply dropped from 88,560 to 64,000. This reflects a reduction in number of new infections.

This puts Uganda well in the running for reaching one of the 15 Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) targets.

MDG six targets HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and other infectious diseases by 2015.

Asuman Lukwago the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health says Uganda has halved the number of people dying due to TB in the past 12 years from 9900 in 1990 to 4,700 in 2012

He said:  “The ministry observes that out of the estimated 65,000 Ugandans who developed TB in 2012, almost two-thirds were diagnosed and notified to the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme (NTLP) resulting in a 77% treatment success rate.”

He said the success is due to the re-establishment of the NTLP as a focal point to lead and provide technical guidance and coordinate TB control in the country.

“As a result of the Programme, the number of Ugandans estimated to have TB has reduced from  88,560 to 64,000 while the population has doubled to approximately 36 million in 2013,” he said.

He said NTLP and its development partner’s strategically rolled out TB diagnosis to over 1000 hospitals and health centers in the country including both private nonprofit and profit organizations that offer subsidized TB services.

“The government has assured free access to high quality first line TB medicine as well as second line medicine to those diagnosed with it,”  he said. 

Uganda is one of the countries in the world facing a duo epidemic of HIV and Tuberculosis. The uptake of TB/HIV services have significantly improved to about 90% of diagnosed patients getting tested for HIV with hose found co-infected being provided Cotrimoxazole currently at 95%.

The ministries of health has revised the TB/HIV policy guidelines to incorporate WHO guidance such as providing Ionized Preventive Therapy (IPT) to all eligible people living with HIV and also easily initiate HIV treatment to all TB/HIV co infected patients.

Lukwago says the ministry has put in place district health information systems to effectively record and report all presumed and confirmed TB cases. The ministry is optimistic the utilization of the GeneXpert machines will enhance the diagnostic capacity for Multi-Drug Resistant TB 

He said: “The NTLP has scaled up programmatic management of MDR TB to cover national and referral hospitals to strengthen, provide easy access to treatment and prevent complications such as Extensive Drug Resistant TB (EDR TB).”

By Winnie Mandela, Sunday, April 27th, 2014