New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: U.S Gives U.S.$11 Million for TB Machine

The US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) on Tuesday, in Washington DC announced an additional $11m (about 28b) for Tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis equipment to 14 countries across sub-Saharan Africa and Burma, including Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

The equipment includes a Cepheid Xpert, an advanced device, that can detect mycobacterium, the organism that causes tuberculosis, directly from sputum in less than two hours.

The device is significant for diagnosis in persons with TB who are also HIV positive.

Additionally, a portion of the funding will train health workers on proper application of the device and support health ministries to incorporate its usage into national laboratory strategies.

TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV in Africa and access to this device offers a significant advance in the capacity of TB and HIV programmes to diagnose TB quickly and help reduce its transmission. It will also help reduce on TB-related deaths.

The announcement follows the November 29 launch of the PEPFAR blueprint for an AIDS-free generation and in conjunction with the first annual meeting of the African Society of Laboratory Medicine in South Africa.

Eric Goosby, the US global AIDS co-ordinator, said: "The roll out of Xpert® MTB/RIF has brought us to the cusp of a revolution in TB diagnosis. As a clinician, I am thrilled about the promise of this technology to bring a rapid diagnostic closer to patients."

"Tackling TB/HIV co-infection is a high priority for PEPFAR and this funding reflects that commitment," he added.

The Permanent Secretary in the health ministry, Dr. Asuman Lukwago, said the device would be a significant addition to the laboratory.

Frank Mugabi, the programmes officer for TB and Leprosy at the health ministry, was not available for a comment as he is out of the country.

An estimated 14 million people, mainly young adults worldwide, are infected with active TB, according to the WHO.

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