uganda

Ending TB disease in Uganda and Africa’s slow pace  

(Last Updated On: 29 March 2023)

Uganda’s daily Tuberculosis (TB) disease infection is still high although efforts to combat it is on course. The disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the world’s leading causes of death.

In Uganda, the world health body says, daily, an estimated 30 people die, and 223 get sick with TB, adding that the detection “is very low”.

A local organization, Stop TB, says in 2020, 90,000 people developed TB. Of the figures, 12,000 were children. In the same year, according to the same source, 7,400 people died because of TB.

“Substantial missed opportunities for TB diagnosis in Wakiso district,” BMC Health Services says of its research.

“While it’s important that patients should be empowered to report symptoms, health workers need to proactively implement the WHO TB symptom screen tool and complete the subsequent steps in the TB diagnostic cascade,” added BMC.

Relatedly, the population-based survey on the prevalence of TB in Uganda revealed that only 16 percent of presumptive TB patients seeking care at different health facilities were offered sputum microscopy or chest-X ray (CXR).

Africa

As a continent, 75,000 die every year due to TB, and according to WHO Africa, the continent is recording around 4 percent annual decline in TB cases.

Although the rate is double the global pace, the regional health body says the continent risks missing major milestones and targets to end the disease if efforts are not doubled rapidly.

Despite the slow pace towards the 2025 target, Africa region has made progress in recent years. Tuberculosis death reduced by 26 percent between 2015 and 2021 with high burden TB countries exceeding initial targets to lower cases.

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A courtesy graph showing TB trends in Africa.

UPC

Speaking on Wednesday, March 29, Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) said the annual World TB Day is an occasion to raise awareness and advocate for efforts to eliminate it.

Quoting WHO, UPC spokesperson Arach Oyat Sharon said “this disease affects any part of the body, but mainly the lungs and it has been with us for a long time”.

“Uganda is one of the countries with the higher burden of TB. There is an increase of TB cases and this can be also attributed to increased HIV/AIDS cases as the two tend to go hand in hand. We are living in crowded places and our public transport is too congested, which can easily spread it through droplet infection,” she added.

UPC is calling upon the government through her line Ministry of Health to carry out more awareness activities, including free of charge camps of all TB related examinations and treatment as a supplement to government heath outlets.

“The public is also encouraged to ensure routine medical tests for TB and other diseases in case of any signs,” the party advised.

The Uganda’s Ministry of Health says TB services are integrated into the general health care system and are further decentralized to community level to ensure active community involvement and ownership.

The overall approach to TB control in the country, health ministry says is aligned to the “Stop TB Partnership and the Global Plan to Stop TB”.

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