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TB an Enormous Health Challenge to Uganda

Pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) that is otherwise sometimes referred to as tuberculosis (TB) of the lungs is a disease that has been eradicated in most parts of the world, but continues to persist in Uganda. PTB, moreover, is a highly infectious, debilitating and deadly airborne disease, but which is preventable and curable.

As is the case with all airborne infectious diseases, early diagnosis of PTB and the isolation and treatment of those infected with active mycobacterium TB is the most efficient way to slow down PTB infection rates and or to prevent its geographical spread.

Emerging findings from a comprehensive qualitative investigation into PTB in Uganda that was conducted by CPAR Uganda Ltd agree with The Uganda National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey, 2014-2015 which estimates that thousands of people infected with PTB in Uganda have not been tested.

There is, indeed, good reason to believe that thousands of Ugandans infected with active PTB are unaware what disease afflicts them, or if they are aware they are unaware of the dire consequences of not seeking diagnostic and treatment services.

Persons infected with active PTB, some unaware, live freely within their families and communities unknowingly spreading the deadly disease. The national TB survey estimates that Uganda has 87,000 TB cases annually; an annual prevalence rate of 253/100,000; and a rate that is higher than had previously been thought.

It is feasible that on the basis of a false assumption previously held that Uganda had a lower TB prevalence rate, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Uganda no longer among countries with a high TB burden.

High level Government of Uganda (GoU) officials, such as the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, moreover,  acknowledge that Uganda’s “TB burden has continued to cause an enormous health challenge to the people of Uganda and is a big public health challenge to the health system in Uganda. Additionally, TB presents an economic challenge and impacts negatively on the livelihood of our people.”

It is therefore baffling that Uganda national budgets for TB management are consistently underfunded. According to the WHO annual TB report for the financial year 2016/2017, for example, 71 percent of the 2017/2018 budget for Uganda’s national TB programme is not funded.

Insufficient funding for PTB healthcare services is the reason that PTB diagnostic services are not easily accessible to ordinary Ugandans as they should be.

It is against this background that CPAR Uganda Ltd has authored a policy brief to the Health Committee of The Parliament of the Republic of Uganda urging it to cause GoU to act to cause better TB health care management for Ugandans.

You can download a PDF of the full policy brief here.

Photo Credit: Mrs. Maxellene Katongole (CPAR Uganda Ltd Associate Trainer) and Dr. Erica Sanga (Qualitative Investigator) act in a role play during the training of qualitative investigators for the research and advocacy project Tuberculosis Working to Empower the Nations’ Diagnostic Efforts (TWENDE).

 

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