Ghana chalks success in the fight against TB

The Ministry of Health and the National Tuberculosis Control Programme (NTP) have announced successes in case detection and management in the global fight against TB and allied HIV and AIDS prevalence rate in Ghana.

A major breakthrough is reduction in the treatment regime to six months without injections, a departure from the eight months of treatment of which the first two months included daily injections of streptomycin.

Fixed dose combination of tablets has taken over from TB medicines, which came previously as loose tablets making patients susceptible to swallowing several pills have been reduced since July 2007.

An innovation of assigning treatment supporters to ensure that patients complied and adhered to the TB treatment regime also addressed some of the stigma associated to the disease.

The Programme Control has made provision to support clients with some funding (enablers package) which caters for the food, transport and other costs.

Dr Nii Nortey Hanson-Nortey, Deputy Programme Manager of NTP, made this known in an interview with the Ghana News Agency.

He said his outfit was stepping up strategies to increase case findings in some selected health facilities in the Accra Metropolis on pilot basis, since it is believed about 60 per cent of the disease passes undetected.

He said cough registries would be opened for all clients to health facilities as well as the active screening for TB and other related symptoms, collaboration with community pharmacy and chemical outlets and mandatory screening for all people living with HIV for at least twice every year.

Dr Hanson-Nortey said in 2010, the NTP noticed 14,897 TB cases, representing a TB notification rate of 63/100,000 population showing a decline of two per cent from the 2009 data.

“A challenge to the programme and other stakeholders is late reporting of the disease. Most people do not treat cough as an emergency until they become very weak,” he said.

Dr Hanson-Nortey mentioned default or non adherence to the TB medicines as another challenge.

“This could cause the TB bacilli to develop resistance to the potent medicines for treating TB with indiscriminate abuse of antibiotics becoming a leading cause to the creation of TB drug resistance.”

Professor Gerald Friedland, Director of AIDS Programme at Yale New Haven Hospital in the US called for the strengthening of Ghana’s laboratory system in diagnosing TB situation.

“Weak laboratory systems would not provide the clear assessment of real TB situation in the country.

Dr Akwasi Addo, Head of Bacteriology Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana called for redoubling of efforts to prevent TB patients in the Multi Drug Resistance stage from migrating into the Extreme Drug Resistance category.

Dr Frank A. Bonsu, Programme Manager of NTP entreated World Health Organisation (WHO) and other development partners to collaborate to find a true burden of the disease in the country to boost the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals target for TB control.

He said the last time a test was conducted was in 1957.

A WHO report indicates that only 15,286 out of 48,000 TB cases were reported by hospitals in Ghana in 2009.

Out of 85 per cent of TB cases that occurred in developing countries, Africa had 30 per cent while Asia recorded 55 per cent with an approximate 1.7 million people dying of TB in 2009.

TB recorded more than 2 million cases globally and accounts for more than 30 per cent of all deaths in third world countries and mostly affecting adults between 15-59 years.

Source: GNA

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