To contribute to the reduction of Tuberculosis (TB) in the country, the Ministry of Health is set to introduce a new quick-testing method for the disease that will avail results within a week.
This was revealed yesterday by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, during the official opening of a workshop on laboratory-based assessment and surveillance of drug resistant TB.
In her explanation, the quick method will enable quick medical response to resistant TB as opposed to the available testing system through which patients acquire results after about one to four months.
“Laboratories are a very important part of the health system as they help us diagnose people for proper treatment.
The rapid response system will help us detect the resistant TB as early as possible so that spread of the disease is curtailed,” she said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Rwanda, Dr. Jack Abdoulie Dodou, also noted that the increased prevalence of TB in developing countries is directly connected to the HIV rates in sub Saharan Africa.
“The HIV/Aids virus destroys the body immunity system leaving victims with very minimal protection against bacteria which causes TB.”
He however hailed the government’s health policy of ensuring that the laboratory services work hand in hand with the TB control unit to manage the disease.
“Curbing TB infections depends on early detection and treatment which demand high quality laboratories.
Rwanda’s laboratory system is very efficient and exemplary to other countries.”
“That is why laboratory officials from other countries have come here to acquire hands-on techniques so they can go back and improve their testing methods too,” Abdoulie explained.
Dr. Michel Gasana, the Head of the TB unit in TRAC Plus attested that managing TB cases has mainly been as a result of testing all TB patients for HIV in a bid to do proper follow up.
“97 percent of people who test positive for TB now know their HIV status and are on antiretrovirals depending on their CD4 count.
We are determined to treat and follow up on these cases because multi-drug resistant TB is normally caused by not taking drugs on time,” Gasana emphasized.
According to Gasana, about 7,800 cases of the TB are reported annually, however this is not a clear impression of the prevalence rate since most people do not go for testing.
The five-day training attracted participants from various countries such as Burundi, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Zimbabwe and Ghana among others.