Health sector stakeholders have called for early Tuberculosis screening for HIV-positive persons to ensure timely response.
The move is being spearheaded by Rwanda Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS (RRP+), in partnership with Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) in the City of Kigali as a pilot phase.
The screening will be conducted in different health centres in city, where the RRP+ peer educators will be facilitating HIV-positive people with access to the service.
The screening is planned for implemention in 18 districts countrywide, targeting six health centres in each of the districts.
Each health center will be having a Peer Educator who will be mobilising HIV-positive people to go for the screening.
Speaking at a workshop in Kigali on Wednesday, Sylvie Muneza, RRP+ president, said most HIV-positive people only go for TB screening after seeing some symptoms.
“But now there is need for all HIV-positive people to go for early TB testing, even when symptoms are yet to appear, for better treatment to avoid the severity of TB-HIV combined attack,” she said.
The early TB screening is starting in Kigali, which covers about one-third (30 per cent) of people infected with TB in the country, according to statistics.
RRP+ has 284 peer educators countrywide, who play the role of reaching communities that have people living with HIV/AIDS and mobilise them to attend different health-related programmes at their nearest health centers.
Dr Patrick Migambi, the division manager of TB and Other Respiratory Communicable Diseases at RBC, said, through mobilisation, RRP+ peer educators’ partnership will help raise the success in fighting TB.
He advised that the screening should target the general public, including inmates, children under 15 and adults over 55 years of age, because their risk of infection is higher.
Why Kigali first?
According to 2015/16 figures from Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Kigali has 1,935 of 5,763 patients infected with TB countrywide.
HIV prevalence in Rwanda is reported to be at 3 per cent, with 6.3 per cent in Kigali.
Dr Betru Woldesemayat, the UNAIDS country director said, “the initiative to focus on Kigali City will contribute to advancing of the Fast Track agenda in the cities where HIV prevalence is much higher.”
Tuberculosis remains among the commonest causes of illness and death among people living with HIV of all ages, causing about one third of AIDS related deaths in 2015, according to UNAIDS.
Dr Woldesemayat said improved contribution of civil society organisations to finding a combined solution to TB and HIV will have positive impact on the population.
Patricie Mukangarambe, the director of public health and environment in the City of Kigali, said the programme will help people get to know their status on TB and adopt preventive measures.
She warned people to avoid spitting wherever they are, especially in public places, because it is one of the ways through which TB is spread.
“Spitting in public places should be avoided not only to prevent people from acquiring the airborne disease but also keep the city clean,” she said.
The City of Kigali requires any service providers or employees in hotels, restaurants among others to present their TB- medical certificates to prove that they are free of TB.