The National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Control Programme of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has highlighted the significant strides made by the country in the area of Tuberculosis control and prevention. This was disclosed during a press briefing held at the Health Ministry, in commemoration of World Tuberculosis Day.
Speaking at the occasion, Adama Jallow, the programme manager of the National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Control Programme at the Ministry of Health noted that among the achievements the programme has registered, is the high political commitment they have received from the Government of The Gambia and for progressively maintaining a good programmatic and financial performance in the current phase 2 of the global fund TB grant.
He stated that the TB Prevalence Survey conducted by MRC under the round 9 TB grant has been successfully completed and then noted that it is the second of its kind in Africa. He added that the result suggests a marked difference of WHO estimates for TB burden in The Gambia.
Jallow pointed out that the new smear-positive case diagnosed has increased from 1306 cases in 2008 to 1431 in 2012; and the treatment success rate had increased to 88%, exceeding WHO global target of at least 85% He revealed that the defaulter rate has declined from 14% in 2005 to 2% in 2012, and there has not been any stock-out of anti-TB drugs in The Gambia.
The programme manager of the National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Control Programme spoke about the instalment of the X-pert (Gene x Pert) at the National Public Health lab, which is a molecular test that detects the DNA in TB bacteria, noting that it also uses a sample and can give a result in less than 2 hours.
Dr Dayo Adetifa, who represented the Medical Research Council Unit's director disclosed that National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Programme and MRC have completed a nationwide TB Prevalence Survey, in partnership with other local and technical partners, like the National Public Health Lab, WHO -Geneva and The Gambia, with funding from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria as well as MRC.
Dr Dayo said the objectives of the survey were to establish the burden of TB disease, estimate the proportion of case detected and treated by the NLTP and identify the causes of low TB detection in The Gambia.
He disclosed that the survey team had covered Banjul to Koina and enumerated 100,678 Gambians in 13,857 households, invited 55,831 eligible persons to participate in the survey; conducted symptoms screening and chest X-rays for 43,100 participants, out of whom 25,593 (59.3%) were female and 17546 (40.7%) were males.
Dr Dayo revealed that the key findings of the survey are that the overall national prevalence of all forms of TB in The Gambia is 128/100,000 population, which is 3.8 times lower than the 490/100,000 estimate in 2013 Global Report. He pointed out that the findings further revealed that the revised TB incidence for The Gambia is 175/100,000 population.
For his part, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr Makkie Taal, said the media and the health sector have forged a partnership, which he noted, enable journalists to contribute effectively in developing relevant messages for the public regarding TB and HIV/AIDS
He thus thanked all the partners for their support towards TB control and prevention in The Gambia.