By Daudi Zirimala
The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng,has launched a 100-Day Accelerated Scale-up plan for Tuberculosis Preventive Treatment (TPT) targeting over 300 000 People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV) in Uganda where the government will also provide TPT to all children aged 12 months or more living with HIV as well as HIV-negative infants and children aged 5 years or below who are household contacts of patients with pulmonary Tuberculosis.
Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said that the Ministry of Health and partners have over time implemented HIV prevention and treatment interventions that have resulted in a significant epidemic contraction in the last five years.
The United States (US) Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Deborah Malac commended the country on raising awareness about TB among PLHIV and investing resources to mitigate the challenge.
She noted that TB remains a big burden among PHLIV, leading to death.Ms Deborah, thus informed everyone that the US government is committed to tackling TB in general and especially among PHLIV, “we will continue to invest resources to tackle the TB scourge in Uganda.”
In his remarks, the World Health Organization Representative in Uganda, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam similarly lauded the Government of Uganda for scaling up TB prevention treatment for PLHIV. He said that TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, “in 2017, for example, TB was responsible for 32% of the 940 000 lives lost to HIV, globally,” he noted.
Dr Yonas further said that later this month, the WHO will convene a Guideline Development Group (GDG) to update the existing guidelines on TPT that are needed for programmatic management of hidden tuberculosis infection.
Despite the adoption of global TPT guidelines, Uganda has only been able to reach 16% of the PLHIV with this life-saving intervention.
However, Uganda is still facing a dual epidemic of TB and HIV despite 13 years since the first TB/HIV collaborative policy was developed with 40% of the TB patients testing HIV positive, and 35 per 100 000 people dying with TB and HIV. Similarly, an estimated 14 000 TB-related deaths among HIV positive individuals occurred in Uganda in 2017.
The above thus created the need to scale up TPT in order to reduce the deaths due to TB among PLHIV.