The number of cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is increasing in Uganda, 10 nurses from the Uganda National Association for Nurses and Midwives said recently at a press conference in Entebbe, Uganda, the Monitor reports.
According to the group, most cases of MDR-TB have been seen in the districts of Arua, Gulu, Hoima, Kabale, Kampala, Mbale, Mbarara and Soroti. The nurses did not provide statistical data to support their claim that the MDR-TB cases are increasing, according to the Monitor.
Janet Obuni, a nurse who led the group, said MDR-TB is increasing because people living with the disease are not completing their treatment course and as a result are developing resistance to the drugs. Obuni said the disease is "becoming a serious global public health concern," adding that nurses need to be trained "to handle it before it spreads." The nurses recently completed a course in Nairobi, Kenya, on how to treat people living with MDR-TB.
Sam Zaramba, director general of health services at the Ministry of Health, said that a number of cases of MDR-TB had been registered at "some treatment centers" and that the government responded by sending the nurses to Kenya for training. The nurses called on the government to provide them with protective gear to prevent transmission of the disease and said routine screening around the country, especially at schools, is necessary to identify new cases.
According to the Monitor, it costs between $10,000 and $20,000 to treat a single case of MDR-TB, which is more than the cost of drug-sensitive cases. TB drugs are provided at no cost in all government hospitals in Uganda, but some people reportedly are reluctant to swallow the pills for fear of side effects, such as burns on the body.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation