KIGALI - Health experts from 17 African countries are meeting in Kigali to devise mechanisms to control Tuberculosis (TB) through surveillance, recording and reporting.
While officially opening the five-day conference, the Minister of Health, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, told participants that African countries need to embark on escalating health information surveillance for detection and monitoring of Multi-Drug Resistance (MDR), including drug-resistant tuberculosis across the continent.
“We are very happy to host such a high level meeting. It gives us an opportunity to better manage our health sectors. Tuberculosis knows no borders,” said Binagwaho.
“It is therefore up to all of us to play our part and strengthen surveillance, recording and reporting of these cases so that we ensure sustainability for control of this diseases,” she noted.
Dr Michel Gasana, the head of the TB Unit, observed that there were some patients who do not complete their treatment, making the virus drug-resistant.
“Tuberculosis takes six months to heal. If a patient does not use drugs effectively, the disease will persist,” he said.
The workshop also aims at improving information on TB control through strengthening national capacity in surveillance, registration, monitoring and evaluation of Drug Resistant TB.
Experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) highlighted that African countries need to identify clear figures of TB drug resistant cases saying it would benefit the community.
“We don’t have a clear picture of TB drug resistance in Africa. We need to know how to identify these cases because if you don’t have figures, you cannot do anything” Dr Angelica Salomao, a Medical Officer at the TB Unit of the WHO regional office for Africa said.
WHO Country representative, Dr. Cissé Lamine Sarr, pointed out that the national MDR centre has worked immensely to reduce the drug resistance cases in the country.
“In 2006, cases of MDR had increased, and WHO urged member states, in May 2009, to develop a key network that will lower TB infections.
Countries, including Rwanda, have expressed commitment and this meeting is part of the process for us to improve regional capacity to identify, prevent and manage TB,” Sarr said.