KAMPALA — Today, March 24, marks the annual commemoration of World Tuberculosis (TB) & Leprosy Day in Uganda and globally.
This year, Uganda’s National World TB and Leprosy Day events are being held in Moroto District, the home of the U.S. government’s Accelerated Control of TB in Karamoja program or PACT Karamoja supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to celebrate Moroto District’s outstanding performance in TB control.
“The United States mission in Uganda is committed to building a healthy, vibrant society where every Ugandan child, woman, and man has opportunities to achieve their full potential. Today we join Uganda and the global community to acknowledge and remind the world how serious TB is and reaffirm our global commitment to ending the disease,” said USAID Uganda Mission Director Richard Nelson at Uganda’s World TB Day National Commemoration event in Moroto.
In 2018, the United States launched the “Global Accelerator to End TB” to support countries in reaching the ambitious global targets of diagnosing and enrolling 40 million people on TB treatment and enrolling 30 million on TB preventive therapy by 2022. Administered through USAID, this program has embedded advisors at ministries of health globally to build the capacity of National TB programs and made direct awards to 35 local organizations in the priority countries, including Uganda. The Infectious Diseases Institute is the prime implementer for USAID’s Accelerated Control of TB in Karamoja program.
TB is the world’s deadliest infectious disease, infecting about 10 million people and killing 1.5 million globally each year, the USAID Mission Director said. As dangerous as TB is, it is treatable and curable. In fact, in the past 20 years, more than 63 million lives globally have been saved through TB intervention.
USAID’s PACT Karamoja program is a $7.5 million agreement (2020-2025) that aims to address the Karamoja Region’s high TB prevalence and low treatment success rates by supporting locally generated solutions to mobilize health facilities, village health teams, and community members for accelerated screening, testing, identification, and successful treatment and prevention of TB.
Speaking on the success of PACT Karamoja, USAID Mission Director Nelson congratulated the sub-region noting that 80 percent of all people treated for TB were cured in the last reporting period, up from 52 percent successfully treated at the start of 2020.
Despite previous struggles in the Karamoja Region with TB case identification and treatment retention, significant improvements in TB program indicators have been observed since PACT Karamoja’s launch. Over the last 12 months, USAID’s Nelson said, there was a 43 percent increase in the number of TB cases identified and a more than doubling in the number of cases successfully treated compared to the prior year. This is an important milestone to achieve during the first year of PACT Karamoja implementation amidst COVID-19 in a region with a high burden and past low performance.
“All of us have a critical role to play,” said U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) country director for Uganda Lisa Nelson, speaking at the event in Moroto. “As individuals, raise awareness about TB, encourage people to seek help early, and support those in care to complete treatment. Yes, do not stigmatize.
Instead, empathize …. the time is ticking! Support every person with TB to complete treatment for TB,” she said.
The United States actively supports Uganda’s national TB response, working directly with health facilities to provide HIV and TB services. At the national level, CDC directly supports Uganda Prisons Service to conduct on-entry and daily TB screening and contact tracing among inmates; collaborates with the National TB Reference Laboratory to ensure quality for TB laboratory diagnostics, efficient sample transport, and optimal use of diagnostic technologies in labs across the country; and supports TB surveillance through the Field Epidemiology Training Program to build Ugandan public health professionals’ capacity to lead a more robust TB response.
In 2020, United States assistance helped more than one million Ugandans to access TB diagnostic services and recognized that about 30 percent of TB patients are HIV co-infected. U.S. efforts supported almost 18,000 TB/HIV co-infected patients to access TB treatment.
The U.S. government is committed to supporting Ugandans to fight TB and live healthier and more prosperous lives.