Last Updated on: 9th March 2022, 10:29 am
Uganda is ranked among 20 countries worldwide with the highest TB infection burden.
By Awor Christine
Lira – March 9, 2022: Lango sub-region is among the three sub-regions in the country with the highest-burden of TB infections and according to a health official, 3,646 cases couldn’t be diagnosed last year.
And as the rest of the world and Uganda prepare to celebrate world Tuberculosis (TB) day, Lira City has been preferred to host the celebration on March 24, 2022.
The Resident City Commissioner of Lira Lawrence Egole revealed this at a press briefing on Monday inside the RCC boardroom. Egole was accompanied by officials from Lira Regional Hospital, Rhites North Lango and Lira City.
RCC Egole who is the chairperson of the regional organizing committee of the function said Uganda is among 20 countries worldwide with a TB burden.
“Uganda will join the rest of the world in commemorating World TB Day that happens on March 24 every year though Covid interrupted the past two celebrations,” Egole noted.
He further said Lira was strategically chosen because the Lango sub-region is topping Tuberculosis infection rates.
According to Egole, TB is still one of the killer diseases in Uganda and it contributes to around 83% of people living with tuberculosis worldwide.
“And this means we are not doing well as a country and a lot of awareness is paramount,” he told a press conference.
Hosting the event in Lira, the RCC said is “a very big awareness for people in the region”
Dr Jimmy Sewanyana, head of TB services at Lira Regional Referral Hospital noted that a total of 30 Ugandans die with TB every day.
On the good news, he said that TB has medication in the government hospitals and designated health centres.
“24th March is the date that marked the day in 1882 when Robert Couch announced that they had discovered the bacteria that caused TB and that was the beginning of diagnosing and treating tuberculosis,” Dr Sewanyana recalled, adding that Tuberculosis can be cured so long as one is on medication.
“TB drugs are in hospitals and accredited private facilities, TB is preventable, treatable and curable,” he confirmed.
Meanwhile, Dr Benard Otucu, the Lira City Principal Medical Officer reiterated that Uganda as a country has a target of making sure that by 2030, TB is eradicated.
“Therefore the task is for everyone to see that they identify TB victims and get them treated on time.”
He said they are going to engage in a very intensive campaign and make sure that we reach out to the community by involving the health workers, VHTs; moving from household to household to go and identify all those having symptoms of TB.
“Samples will be picked, tested and all those found with TB will be having treatment for that,” said Otucu.
By doing this consistently for all the remaining years, by 2030, he said Uganda will hit the eradication target.
The Regional Tuberculosis and Leprosy Focal Point Person for Lango Dr Ben Okao Abor said the celebration will be held together with World Leprosy Day which used to be celebrated in January.
Because leprosy is still rampant in the Lango sub-region and ranked 2nd in Uganda, Abor said making the two events as one is to create awareness.
“Some of these people who have leprosy don’t go to a hospital because the signs are not obvious and they tend to ignore it until it intensifies making the health workers diagnose leprosy patients with disability grade two with clown fingers and bad wounds.”
“So the upcoming World TB Day is intended to raise awareness because the Lango sub-region is among the three regions in the country with the highest-burden of TB making TB a public health problem in Uganda and that is the basis of selecting the sub-region to host the event,” according to Abor.
He also said Covid-19 negatively impacted the fight against TB in Uganda because a lot came in between.
“When Covid-19 came with all the restrictions which were put in place, the immediate impacts were that even OPD attendance, the number went down because of restricted movement and we ended up missing diagnosing 10,739 TB cases in January to December 2020 and this means these people are at large in the community infecting others, ” he added.
From January to June 2021, according to him, they missed diagnosing 3,646 TB cases.
“And to make it worse, all these past years, we have not been able to diagnose all the TB cases in the community. On average, every year, we used to miss about 40% of TB cases, which places us a country among countries in the world with high TB burden,” Dr Okao said.
Geoffrey Kabale, Officer in charge of TB at JCRC Rhites North Lango announces that Lira is currently running the second biggest drug resistance TB unit in Lira Regional Referral Hospital.
This, he said, is because most of the people have moved away from mild TB treated with First-Line Treatment to drug-resistant TB which is more intensive.
According to Kabale, this comes as a result of somebody diagnosed with TB not taking their medication well and that many patients with drug-resistant TB are new, meaning the transmission rates are high in the community.
The celebration will start with a TB Run (marathon) on Sunday, March 13 and the main event will be at Mayor’s Garden Lira City.
The major objective of the marathon is to build a TB treatment wing at Iganga Hospital which does not have a unit. TND News understands that the national organising team agreed to have a run for that cause.
The event will be officiated by the Minister of Health who doubles as Lira City Woman MP, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng.
Thousands, including dignitaries, are expected to attend.
The theme for this year’s celebration is, “Invest in TB and save a life.”