TB cases reduce, ministry rewards health volunteers

The number of people contracting tuberculosis (TB) in the country has been decreasing over the last five years, latest figures show.
A health volunteer (L) is rewarded for her efforts in fighting TB.  The New Times/  Jean P. Bucyensenge.
A health volunteer (L) is rewarded for her efforts in fighting TB. The New Times/ Jean P. Bucyensenge.

The number of people contracting tuberculosis (TB) in the country has been decreasing over the last five years, latest figures show.

Dr Pierre Claver Kayumba, the director-general of Rwanda Bio-medical Centre, said the numbers decreased slightly from more than 7,800 people in 2008 to about 6,200 last year.

“The target is to stop any new infection,” he said. “People need to understand that TB is a curable disease and always timely seek medical support in case they have contracted it. That way, we shall totally rid our society of it.”

Dr Kayumba was speaking Friday in Kamembe sector, Rusizi district, as Rwanda joined the rest of the world to mark the World Tuberculosis Day.

Residents from various parts of the district gathered at the Kamembe taxi/bus park to mark the day, which was held with a special call to make efforts to stop the airborne disease.

Standing strong

At the function, Consolee Mukangango shared her testimony of how she contracted and later was cured of the disease.

“I lost weight in a few weeks. But when I was put under treatment, I quickly recovered and regained my strength,” Mukangango, who is also a community health volunteer, said.

Prizes were given to the best performing community health volunteers and health centres for their efforts to eradicate tuberculosis in their communities. The prizes included bicycles, certificates and a cow for the health workers, while the best performing health centre was promised a state-of-the-art laboratory.

Dr Kayumba said government has done a lot to ensure that treatment is accessible to patients. All services related to TB diagnosis and care are accessed freely in all health centres and hospitals across the country, Dr Kayumba said, urging the people to always report to the nearby health facility in case of TB symptoms.

He said early diagnosis and timely treatment is crucial in fighting the disease, which affects more than 8.7 million people worldwide.

“Let us champion for a TB-free society, that no life is lost anymore and that there is no new infection to achieve the aspiration of zero-deaths from TB,” Dr Kayumba said.

The World Tuberculosis Day commemorates the day in 1882 when scientists discovered for the first time the cause of TB. In Rwanda, however, the day was marked two days ahead of March 24. Globally, the day is celebrated under the theme: “Stop TB in My Lifetime.”

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