Uganda losses 30 people to Tuberculosis (TB) every day

16 March 2023, 12:19 pm

Byamukama Alozious>

Ministry of health has revealed that at least 30 people die every day to Tuberculosis (TB) amongst whom are men as compared to women.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease transmitted through the air from a person with it through coughing, laughing, singing, and talking according to the Ministry of Health.

Officials from Ministry of Health and partners led by Director General Ministry of Health Dr. Henry Mwebesa (2nd left) speaking to media on Wednesday

Dr. Stavia Turyahabwe, Assistant Commissioner – National TB and Leprosy Division at the Ministry of Health says the cost of treating TB is high especially if treatment is received from private health facilities which lead to poverty, but also poor people are more likely to suffer from TB due to malnutrition. She adds that the disease mostly affects the lungs but can also affect any part of the body and can affect people of all ages and that the disease is mostly spread by those who do not know they have it or those who did not complete their treatment dose.

In the pediatrics, Dr. Stavia says most found with TB have not been taken for Testing, “A good number of Children with TB are either missed or diagnosed but not started on treatment unless their parents/guardians have the right information, Every child at risk of developing TB should have access to appropriate TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment.”

In the way to prevent the disease in communities Uganda shall join the rest of the world to commemorate World TB and Leprosy Day on 24th March in Butaleja, the ministry together with partners of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Uganda Network on Law and Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) will focus on creating awareness through media and has hosted a media breakfast meeting on Wednesday to create awareness about the diseases.

Dr. Henry Mwebesa – Director General Health Services at the Ministry of Health noted that prior to the World TB commemoration, there will be a number of activities which include community TB and Leprosy awareness, screening, testing, prevention and treatment across the country.

He asked citizens to stop discriminating and stigmatizing TB patients noting that the disease does not spread through shaking someone’s hands, sharing food or drinks, touching bed linen or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes, and or kissing.

TB burden in Uganda

According to the ministry of health, Uganda is one of the top 30 countries, in the world, with a high number of TB cases with approximately 30 people dying of the disease every day, more than half of this number being people living with HIV.Statistics show that TB is 4 times more common among men than in women.TB dominates Districts in the West-Nile region of Uganda

Signs and Symptoms of TB

Cough for two or more weeks or on and off cough

Prolonged fevers for more than two weeks

Excessive (or Drenching) Night sweats

Coughing blood or blood-stained sputum

Unexplained weight loss

Poor weight gains among children

History of contact with a person who has TB

Chest pain

Swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpits

Treatment for TB

Experts recommend to begin TB treatment as soon as possible following diagnosis.

“TB is curable, if detected early and you adhere to treatment as prescribed by your health worker.”

The duration of treatment for uncomplicated TB is 6 months with a daily dose

TB can fail to respond to the usual treatment if you don’t test early or if you do not take the medicines correctly as prescribed by the health worker or you get exposed to someone with resistant TB

“Good news is that drug resistant TB is also Curable! Do not miss your TB treatment,” Dr. Turyahabwe added.

Prevention and control of TB

Immunize your child at birth against TB

Go for testing and treatment as soon as you have the TB signs and symptoms

Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a handkerchief, any other piece of cloth or an arm/elbow

Use the mask correctly and at all times when in public or enclosed space

Put enough windows on your house to allow proper ventilation

Open windows, doors including those of vehicles such as buses and taxis

Avoid over crowded places

Stay out doors for most of the day if you have TB

If you have been found with TB disease, the health worker will start you on TB treatment.

Persons with TB disease should make sure their loved ones, people they work, study, stay or frequently interact with are also assessed and checked for TB

Children below five years old living with someone with TB will be put on preventive medicine.

Children above five years old, adolescents and adults who test negative for TB, but are living with someone with TB, will also be put on preventive medicine.

Dr. Mwebesa says that Uganda registers over 90,000 new cases every year.

“But also sometimes we don’t find all those 90,000 cases. When we are lucky we can find about 72,000 to 80,000” which remains a big threat to the society.

He called on the stakeholders to utilize this campaign to get all the people who are sick and start them on treatment.

“The burden is not only them the 20,000 (unfound patients) but also the spread they cause. So they will find next year, the burden is even bigger than 90,000,” he added.

Dr. Mwebesa says that if patients adhere to the treatment guidelines recover completely