Uganda has on Wednesday March 24, 2021 joined the rest of the world to commemorate the World Tuberculosis and Leprosy Day themed ‘It’s Time to End TB: Support Every Person With TB to Complete Treatment’.
The day’s celebration was held at Boma grounds in Moroto, officiated at by the Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng.
Speaking at the event, Aceng noted that Uganda remains among the 30 high burden TB and HIV countries in the world and that TB still causes significant mortality and morbidity among Uganda’s population.
About 9,000 Ugandans, she said, are getting TB annually including 1,500 with drug-resistant TB and an estimated 15,600 deaths that are attributable to the respiratory illness.
Despite the progress in finding missing TB patients since 2015 and the increase in the treatment coverage under the TB program with support from the various partners, the Karamoja sub-region still remains one of the high burdened regions, according to Aceng.
She also noted that Uganda cannot achieve TB treatment success without involving, as a priority, the Karamoja sub-region.
“It’s estimated that in Karamoja, TB is ten times more prevalent than the national average. The treatment success rate was significantly low, below 50% prior to the emergency response that was declared in November 2019,” Aceng said.
However, she noted, there has been a significant improvement to about 80% of those who start TB treatment and complete it successfully which has improved the national treatment success to over 80% from 72%.
She urged leaders to take up the responsibility of follow up on TB programmes and encourage people in their areas to embrace testing for and treating TB for those who are sick.
She particularly called on leaders in the region to educate the locals and bring them up to speed with the importance of looking out for their health.
“If you don’t supervise the programs, eventually the partners will pack up and go. We need to speak to the Karamajong so that they understand because sometimes culture is a challenge,” she said.