New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Drugs for Resistant TB Available

The Government has procured drugs for the multi-drug resistant tuberculosis valued at about sh719m for 100 patients, according to the Director General of Health Services, Dr. Dennis Lwamafa.

An additional supply of 200 courses valued at sh1.2b, according to the health ministry, will be procured in September; under the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) support to Uganda.

Management for the long term care of multidrug resistant TB is being administered at Mulago Hospital and selected regional hospitals in the country.

There are 294 registered cases of resistant TB. Such cases develop during treatment of drug-sensitive TB, and are caused partly due to failure to complete the full course of treatment or when a patient takes the wrong treatment.

Uganda is ranked 16th among the 22 high-burden countries with an overall burden estimated at about102,000 new TB cases per year.

Some of tuberculosis infections are associated with HIV infections.

The health ministry also clarified that the country has the required TB diagnostic capacity and treatment policy guidelines to control multidrug resistant TB.

Due to the complex nature of diagnosing TB drug resistant patients, Dr. Lwamafa said the cases are being diagnosed at the National TB reference laboratory in Kampala and not at ordinary hospitals or health centres.

"Health facilities only take specimen samples from patients and send them to the laboratory in Kampala." He said.

He said some of the 294 multi-drug resistant TB patients have already started treatment at Mulago Hospital, Arua Hospital and Kitgum Hospital.

"Plans are underway to commence treatment at Mbarara, Mbale and Fort Portal hospitals as soon as the prerequisite capacities at the sites are built," he added.

TB treatment is free in all public, NGO health facilities and clinics accredited to do so by the Ministry of Health.

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