KAMPALA – The World Health Organization (WHO) has handed over a Tuberculosis (TB) testing machine to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, meant for identification of TB cases and diagnosis among prisoners.
The TB GeneXpert Machine was handed over by WHO Country Representative, Dr. Yonas Tegegn, during a meeting with Kadaga on Thursday 12 December 2019.
The handover follows numerous pleas by the Speaker to government and donors to put up a mechanism in which inmates with TB could easily be identified and diagnosed.
Dr. Tegegn remarked that WHO considered the fact other testing machines such as Microscopy are ineffective in TB testing especially among HIV patients, and thus selected the highly effective GeneXpert.
“It is due to the use of effective machines that 65 percent of people who develop TB in Uganda annually are detected and only half have a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of the disease,” said Tegegn.
Tegegn was happy that Kadaga chose prisoners who he said are among the target population for TB programming in Uganda, acknowledging that their poor state makes them prone to the disease.
“A recent survey supported by WHO found that over 50 percent of Ugandan households affected by TB experienced catastrophic costs due to delayed diagnosis and other expenses on supportive care,” said Tegegn.
Kadaga was pleased with the donation saying it is timely considering that TB is so far the highest cause of death among HIV/AIDS patients in Uganda totaling to 20,000 deaths annually.
“Prisoners don’t have ready access to the ordinary hospitals because of their situation, but I know this machine is going to make a difference on the turnaround time, identifying those with TB and their treatment,” she said.
She was equally concerned that government funding to TB is only five percent with external funders meeting the biggest burden of 56 percent.
Kadaga promised to convene heads of Uganda Prisons to ascertain the suitable prison hospital where the machine would be stationed.