As Tuberculosis (TB) infection figures continue to soar across Africa, the head of the TB unit in TRAC Plus, Dr. Michel Gasana, has revealed that proper taking of prescribed medication will curb Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR TB).
According to Gasana, most TB patients refuse to take drugs as prescribed by health officials and this continuous failure to complete the course of treatment causes drug resistance.
“Tuberculosis figures are on the rise and this situation is connected to HIV prevalence. The virus weakens the body’s immune system which leaves patients with minimal immunity to fight TB bacteria.
“However, patients must take their medication as prescribed if we are to lower MDR TB levels – a growing problem on the African continent,” Gasana told The New Times.
In relation to solving the TB problem, he also noted that quick laboratory tests are required for proper follow up of patients on treatment and identification of new cases in time adding that in this regard, the Ministry of Health is set to introduce the quick tests next month.
Alarming statistics from the World Health Organization show that sub-Saharan Africa continues to be home to more than 70 percent of all people living with HIV and on average 35 percent of TB patients are co-infected with HIV.
In the Rwandan perspective Gasana once highlighted that about 7,800 cases of TB are reported annually, however this is not a clear impression of the prevalence rate since most people do not go for testing.
“Government is however determined to treat both TB and HIV concurrently in a bid to manage TB cases. 97 percent of people who test positive for TB now know their HIV status and are on antiretroviral treatment depending on their CD4 count,” he added.
During the just concluded 59th Session of the WHO African conference that was held in Kigali, health leaders agreed to commit more resources for HIV prevention and TB control.
They also noted that strengthening surveillance, building modern rapid diagnostic capacity and monitoring drug resistance, are strategies that lower infection rates.