East Africa Struggling With TB Due to Insufficient Personnel – Experts Say

Tuberculosis (TB) has remained a major public health concern because East African countries have little access to sufficient personnel with qualification to perform the tests and properly interpret the result experts, have said.

Dr Blandina Mmbaga, the director, Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute (KCRI), said though most countries in the region still don't have enough doctors, there is also a challenge of inadequate specialized equipment for all the stages in TB treatment.

Mmbanga explained that TB tests require skilled personnel beyond ordinary technical education which is scarce in most low-income countries where Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania fall.

"TB tests mostly require specialized laboratories with access to uninterrupted power supply and cold storage facilities among others facilities, but the challenge is that our countries at some point fail to avail all these at the same time," she said.

She was speaking at a TB project whose theme was Working To Empower Nations Diagnostic Efforts (TWENDE) aimed at coming up with the regional roadmap to make possible the eradication of TB within the World Health Organization (WHO) target of 2050 held in Arusha, Tanzania recently.

Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are among the 22 TB high-burden countries on the globe and TWENDE project brings together regional expertise of East Africa researchers, doctors and policymakers to find ways of dealing with TB.

It is estimated that TB affects over 60 percent of people with HIV/Aids and it is one of the diseases that most disturbs diabetes patients. Prof Christopher Garimoi Orach, from Makerere University's School of Public Health, said that TB, an old disease that remains a global health problem and in 1993, WHO declared TB a global public health emergency.

"To date an estimated nine million cases and two million deaths occur annually. An estimated two billion people, one third of the world's population, are infected and carrying the tubercle bacillus," he said.

He added: "Poverty leads to TB through undernourishment and lack of access to medical care due to financial difficulties. I call upon governments to invest in communities that are prone to TB by offering them social security."

Source: The Observer


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