“I spent seven years treating TB. I moved to five districts across Uganda and also travelled to Tanzania but the TB was not getting cured. By this time I had sold three of my plots of land to raise money for transport and treatment and at some points slept in the church to protect my family from the disease. When it was confirmed that I had MDR-TB, there was no treatment in Uganda at the time. Instead, I was promised that the drugs were about to come so I would be informed to start treatment immediately. In 2013, I received a phone call that directed me to start MDR-TB treatment at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital. I underwent eight months of injections for MDR-TB and two years of taking tablets. That’s when I was told that I am cured. I have been going back to the hospital even after treatment to provide samples for the tests for monitoring and they have all turned out negative. I want to thank USAID/SUSTAIN and Fort Portal Regional Referral for the support – financial, medical/counselling, therapeutic feeds and screening to our family members for TB. I am telling my story to encourage those who have had a persistent cough to seek care. I have also escorted two more patients from my village who have undergone TB tests at Fort Portal Hospital.” Kiiza Nuru – Former MDR-TB patient
Kiiza’s story and several similar experiences from other former TB and MDR-TB patients were the highlight of the World TB Day commemorations on 24th March 2016. The event took place at Kyenjojo Secondary School grounds in Kyenjojo District (Western Uganda) under the theme “Unite to End TB” with the slogan “Find, Treat and cure all TB patients.” The event was presided over by the Minister of Health, Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye.
In his speech, Dr. Elioda applauded the National TB and Leprosy Program for the work well done - having elevated Uganda out of the 22 high burden TB countries in the world. The impressive performance is attributed to increased use of new diagnostics which ensure that significantly, more TB patients are correctly diagnosed.
Hon. Elioda further emphasized that the Village Health Teams (VHTs) should work closely with healthcare providers to identify and refer suspected TB patients from the community to health facilities for screening and treatment. He also launched the Constituency Health Task Force to ensure quality health care is delivered across all levels of the health care system and donated an X-ray machine to Kyenjojo Health Center IV to assist in the diagnosis of TB.
The USAID Strengthening Uganda’s Systems for Treating AIDS Nationally (SUSTAIN) project, implemented by University Research Co, LLC also participated in the event. The project facilitated the participation of three TB healthcare providers at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital and ten former (1 TB and 9 MDR-TB) patients to commemorate the day. Unique from other information materials displayed at the partner exhibition stalls, the SUSTAIN project presented hospital specific profiles with performance data on key indicators including TB and MDR-TB.
|Dr. John Paul Otuba, USAID/SUSTAIN TB Advisor disseminates information materials at the exhibition stall|
All the nine former MDR-TB patients who attended the event received certificates of completion of treatment. Dr. Elioda congratulated the former MDR-TB patients upon enduring and successfully completing the MDR-TB treatment. He also encouraged them to sensitize the community about the TB prevention methods: seeking early medical attention and adhering to treatment once confirmed with the infection.
Also recognized were the TB healthcare providers from Fort Portal Referral Hospital for their support and dedication to ensuring a TB-free community in the Kabarole district and Uganda as a whole. Gulu was also recognized as the best performing district in TB control in Uganda.
|Minister of Health recognizes TB healthcare providers from Fort Portal RRH|
|Gulu district represented by healthcare staff from Gulu RRH receive a plaque with recognition message as the best performing district in TB control|
USAID/SUSTAIN project supports 13 healthcare facilities, namely Arua, Gulu, Lira, Moroto, Mbale, Soroti, Hoima, Mubende, Fort Portal, Jinja, Kabale, Masaka regional referral hospitals and Kawolo General Hospital to deliver quality TB control services. Out of the 15 MDR-TB treatment centres, seven are supported by SUSTAIN and a total 160 patients had been diagnosed and initiated on MDR-TB treatment by September 2015. Similar, impressive performance was noted in TB/HIV collaborative activities at the project-supported hospitals, such as the increase in antiretroviral therapy for co-infected patients which improved from 54% in 2012 to 83% in Sept 2015.
Written by Julian Natukunda, Communications Specialist, USAID/SUSTAIN project