Health Workers Exposed to TB Infection

1657 Views Jinja, Uganda

In short
Gertrude Nakazibwe, a Nurse in the TB ward, says they also lack containers to store sputum samples, which compromises their health. Nakazibwe notes that two of her colleagues have already contracted TB, which has affected their immune system.

Health workers in Jinja district are living in fear of contracting Tuberculosis-TB as a result of handling patients without protective gear. Our reporter visited some health facilities in Jinja and found nurses treating TB patients without surgical masks and gloves.



Jinja Regional Referral Hospital has registered an increase in the number to TB patients over the last three months. Florence Anyait, the in Charge of the TB Unit, says they registered 110 TB patients between January and March this year compared 60 cases registered between October  to December Last year.



 
According to Anyait, despite the high number of TB cases, the hospital last received surgical masks and respirators two years ago.

 
 
//Cue in:" This bring that...

Cue out...are not there."//



Gertrude Nakazibwe, a Nurse in the TB ward, says they also lack containers to store sputum samples, which compromises their health. Nakazibwe notes that two of her colleagues have already contracted TB, which has affected their immune system. 



She asks government to consider supplying eggs and milk to TB units like they used to do five years ago to boost the immunity of health workers.



//Cue in: "They used to

Cue out..are the HIV."//


Samuel Muchwa, a laboratory technician at Njeru Health Centre III, says they operate in a very small place, which compromises the health of the medical workers.


//Cue in: "The space, we...

Cue out....challenge number one."//


Dr. Frank Mugabe, the National TB and Leprosy Programme (NTLP) Manager, acknowledges the challenges the health workers are facing. A program review conducted in 2013 indicates that less than $30,000 (about Shs85m) is allocated by the government to NTLP and about $2m (Shs5b) to the National Medical Stores (NMS) for TB drugs.



He however, notes that the allocations excluded funds for TB reagents and a laboratory supply, which resonates with the limited funding at a time when the country has about 400 multi-drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR) patients.
 

Mugabe says that NTLP is currently conducting a nationwide survey aimed at understanding the exact number of people infected by TB, understanding the challenges health facilities face while treating patients among other issues. He says that through the survey, government will be able to refocus the areas of funding and address challenges facing the health work force.
 

Efforts to get a comment from NMS spokesperson, Dan Kimosho on the failure to supply respirators to health facilities were futile as he is in Kenya for official duties. The programme manager argues that for TB to be controlled, it has to be looked at as a national epidemic, which is in line with the Maputo Declaration of 2005 where African countries were advised to do so.


TB, the world's top infectious disease killer, claims 5,000 lives each day, according to World Health Organisation. According to WHO, Poverty, malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation, compounded by other risk factors such as HIV, tobacco, alcohol use and diabetes, can put people at heightened risk of TB and make it harder for them to access care.
 

 

About the author

Beatrice Nyangoma
Beatrice Nyangoma values her independence as a journalist. This was one of her major considerations before she became a URN staffer in 2015.

Nyangoma says, "I like URN because it gives me room to decide what stories I want to work on. That is so important to me."

The URN Jinja bureau chief since July 2016, Nyangoma considers health matters a beat close to her heart. One of the highlights of her career so far were her exclusive interviews unveiling the rot in Mulago hospital in early 2016.

Nyangoma started out writing for the Red Pepper newspaper in 2011 in her final year of university. She was majorly a health reporter. In 2012, Nyangoma moved to Top Television as a health, business reporter and weekend news editor. She was also the assistant editorial manager of Kabarole Research and Resource Centre FM (KRC FM).