Uganda Faces Growing Concern Over Extreme Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

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The Ministry of Health has raised alarm over an even more extreme strain of tuberculosis (TB) that is resistant to all standard drugs used for treatment. This new form of drug-resistant TB has been identified in areas with a high burden of TB, particularly in the Kampala Metropolitan Area and the northern district of Lira.

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health, stated that Uganda is one of the 30 countries worldwide burdened by TB. Notably, the Kampala Metropolitan Area, which includes Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono, as well as northern Ugandan districts like Lira, Oyam, and Kwania, have a high prevalence of TB cases.

In addition to regular TB, Uganda is grappling with multi-drug resistant TB, which poses a significant challenge to public health efforts. The Ministry of Health plans to conduct further studies to better understand the manifestation of TB in the country due to rising incidence and morbidity rates.

A national survey conducted in 2019 indicated that approximately 89,000 people contracted TB annually, but this number has since risen to around 90,000. The Kampala Metropolitan Area alone detects 7,500 to 9,000 TB cases each year, with Lango Sub-region reporting the second-highest number of cases.

Dr. Patrick Buchan Ocen, the District Health Officer of Lira, revealed that the mortality rate among TB patients in Lango Sub-region was significantly higher than the national average. This trend highlights the urgency of addressing TB as a public health concern.

Dr. Stavia Turyahabwe, the Assistant Commissioner of Health Services and the Programme Manager for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control, emphasized the importance of raising awareness about TB prevention and treatment. The Health Ministry aims to ensure that over 90% of Ugandans are well-informed about TB and leprosy and can access quality healthcare services.

Dr. Turyahabwe urged patients not to lose hope, as TB is both curable and preventable. She also stressed the role of awareness and education in reducing TB transmission, noting that many of those diagnosed with the disease have previously lived with someone who had it.

Uganda faces a challenge in combating this extreme drug-resistant TB strain, highlighting the need for comprehensive strategies to prevent its further spread and to ensure effective treatment.

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