Health Facilities Struggle to Manage Drug Resistant TB Cases

2526 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
A 2014 report by the National TB and Leprosy control program shows that 1,040 multi-drug resistant TB cases are expected each year in Uganda and the cost of treating one such patient is 9.1 Million Shillings.

Health facilities in Kabarole district are struggling to manage multi-drug resistant tuberculosis patients.

Tubercylosisi (TB) drug resistance occurs when patients don't complete the medically prescribed first-line treatment. Patients on first-line treatment are enrolled on isoniazid (INH) and rifampicin, which are regarded as the two most powerful anti-TB drugs.
Statistics from the district health department indicate that on average 150 patients fail to complete their treatment, despite the availability of drugs. This puts a burden on the facilities since it is difficult and expensive to treat.
Vincent Mujuni, a health worker at Rwimi Health Centre III, says that 50 patients are currently undergoing treatment after failing to complete their first line treatment. He explains that since it is dangerous to mix them up in the community, they were forced to construct another ward at a cost of 150 million Shillings, to isolate the patients from those who are responding to treatment.
He explains that the money was meant to pay utilities of the facility.

Cue in: "The major challenge…
Cue out: …risk of failure to respond."//

Charles Magezi, a doctor at the TB clinic at Fort Portal Regional Referral hospital, says that once a patient defaults on treatment, he or she is enrolled on many combinations of drugs for a period of 24 months and requires routine supervision.
He explains that the TB clinic lacks sufficient staff to monitor treatment of the patients.
Nelson Baguma, the Kabarole district TB focal person, faults patients for failing to adhere to medical guidelines. He explains that some patients default on treatment due to stigma.

Baguma says health facilities have been advised to provide counselling services to the patients and encourage them to adhere to treatment. He adds that a campaign will soon start of sensitising patients on the risks of discontinuing treatment.

//Cue in: "Drugs for a long time…
Cue out: …people are defaulting."//
According to the World Health Organisation-WHO, defaulting on TB treatment is the biggest challenge countries in Sub Saharan Africa are facing in managing and treating the curable disease among many communities.
The National TB and Leprosy control program 2013/2014 report shows that 1,040 multi-drug resistant TB cases are expected each year in Uganda and the cost of treating one such patient is 9.1 Million Shillings.  


About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.