National TB Conference 2018: Stakeholders call for increased domestic funding towards TuberculosisJustus Ashaba
Kampala – 14/08/2018– Uganda remains among the high TB/HIV burden countries in the world. The country conducted the first national population-based TB disease prevalence survey in 2014/15 which estimated the prevalence of TB at 253/100,000. The survey also showed that Tuberculosis caused 80,000 new cases much higher than HIV (60,000 new cases).
Speaking during the 2nd Annual National TB Conference at Imperial Royale in Kampala, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng noted that “TB is made and treated in the community and a lot needs to be done to find the missing TB cases”. While there is a growing threat of Multi- Drug Resistant (MDR) TB, “the country is notifying only 26 % of the estimated MDR-TB cases. In 2017, 489 MDR-TB cases of the estimated 1900 cases that occurred were detected” she said.
Government of Uganda has invested in new diagnostic technologies like the Gene Xpert machines. “We now have 249 functional Xpert machines spread out in 227 health facilities covering all districts in the country” Aceng informed, as she spoke about the interventions the Ministry is undertaking in the fight against TB. The utilization of these equipment has improved to 9.1% tests per day, however, this still falls short of the expected 12 tests.
The Ministry of Health has also made available free TB treatment with shortening of the treatment period for both sensitive and resistant TB of up to 6 and 12 months respectively. “There is however stagnation in TB treatment outcomes with a poor treatment success rate of just 70% far below the national and global targets” Aceng lamented.
As part of the future plans and efforts in the fight against TB, Hon. Aceng noted that “Use of the Emergency Operational Center (EOC) helped us in achieving elimination of Mother to Child transmission of HIV. The same approach will be employed for key TB indicators until all of us at District level reach desired performance levels” she said.
“In an assessment of TB service delivery at selected facilities early this year, a number of barriers at the facility were identified including; a health workforce with inadequate knowledge on TB diagnosis and management. In an effort to improve health work confidence and skill in TB diagnosis and management, the Ministry will roll out a training cascade in TB management and dissemination of national guidelines to reach relevant management and frontline health workers” Aceng noted.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, Dr. Yonas Tegegny noted that strong partnerships and commitment are required to end the TB epidemic at every level.
Tegegny, however called for reflection on;
• Improved case detection and reporting since most of existing TB cases are being missed by the health systems
• Improving treatment outcomes for the identified TB cases
• The high levels of TB/HIV co-infections among our people
• The rising trends of multi-drug resistant TB cases
• The inadequate financing of Health as a whole in Uganda and towards TB in particular
The US Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac noted that the US Government invests more than $500million annually in Uganda’s health sector. “However, I urge the Government of Uganda to increase domestic funding for TB and craft policies that will help Uganda succeed in ending the TB epidemic for good” Malac said.
“Through its collaboration with Ministry of Health, the 5 year USAID-Defeat TB Project has increased the number of new TB cases by 15% reported in the Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono Districts” Malac informed.
Malac further added that as part of the efforts by the US Government in ending TB Epidemic in Uganda “USAID signed an implementation letter with the Ministry of Health specifying the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in reducing the TB burden in Uganda” she said. She applauded Uganda for this promising step in ending the TB epidemic.
While the country has made some achievements in the fight against TB, the two Day Conference held under the theme “Striving towards a TB Free Uganda through finding the Missing Cases- Act to End TB Today” called for increased allocation of resources and domestic funding towards TB – a plea that remained loud.
Source: Ministry of Health