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TB expert cautions Ghana of weak laboratory system

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Professor Gerald Friedland, Director of AIDS Programme at Yale New Haven Hospital in the United States, on Friday called for the strengthening of Ghana’s weak laboratory system in diagnosing Tuberculosis (TB).

He said though Ghana was doing well in terms of TB control, there was still much more to be done in ensuring more case detection and treatment of the disease.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency after delivering a lecture to staff of Department of Medicine, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and students of University of Ghana Medical School, Prof. Friedland said the weak laboratory system would not provide a clear assessment of the real TB situation in the country.

The lecture was under the theme “Confronting Multiple Drug Resistant (MDR) and Extensively Drug Resistant (XDR) TB and HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa”.

He explained that though Ghana had not yet recorded any Extensively Drug Resistant (XDR) TB, but only Multiple Drug Resistant (MDR) one as compared to South Africa that had the highest rate of XDR, “you need not to wait until you get to that stage”.

“South Africa has a widespread of MDR and within 10 years of low management, they are recording a high prevalence of 7,800 per 100,000 people, this is attributed to the high prevalence of HIV and AIDS,” he said.

Prof. Friedland noted that the widespread prevalence rate in South Africa had been so serious that neighbouring countries like Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, and Zimbabwe had been affected, with no denominator, and that access to care was also limited.

He said what could be done in the short term to prevent or reduce the impact of MDR and XDR-TB in Ghana was rapid and massive infusion of resources for TB and decrease the generation of acquired cases.

Others are strengthening TB programmes, integrate TB/HIV, continue fast-track ARV roll out-universal access and decrease susceptible-reduce reactivation and super infection.

Prof. Friedland recommended the improvement of MDR and XDR TB survival, reduce transmission, control airborne infection strategies, ensure early diagnosis and intensify case finding.

Dr Akwasi Addo, Head of Bacteriology Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, told the GNA that Ghana was far advanced in ensuring that TB patients who were in the MDR stage did not get to the XDR stage.

“We are working hard not to get our patients resistant to TB drugs. Currently the MDR prevalence is 1.5 and the XDR is zero, and we have to maintain the zero and reduce the 1.5 for the MDR,” he added.

Source: GNA

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