United States government continues to expand its support towards the war on HIV and other related infectious diseases. Last week the United States donated nine GeneXpert machines – which can help detect drug resistant version of TB. The move was hailed as a major step towards containing the spread of TB as well as HIV/AIDS.
The US government this week also announced a US$8.6m donation of ARV drugs to the National Medical Stores.
U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac said: “Through this advanced technology, GeneXpert machines will enable health officials to form an accurate diagnosis of a TB patient in just two hours, rapidly advancing that patient’s care and treatment, and ultimately, saving lives.”
This donation has come when Uganda is in a critical stage of fighting against TB and the country’s recent TB prevalence survey shows that there are about 50,000 undiagnosed TB cases which is much higher than the previous estimated number.
The minister of State for Health General Duties Sarah Opendi said: “In the treatment of tuberculosis, GeneXpert machines are very important compared to the traditional TB treatment we have been having for that am very happy to see the support from US government through United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Track TB project we have got these nine pieces. However this is just a drop in the ocean we still need more GeneXpert machines all over the health centers that we have in Uganda that treat TB.”
Currently Uganda has only 112 TB treating health facilities this calls for more GeneXpert machines and according Minister Sarah Opendi at least 344 GeneXpert machines are needed in various health facilities. She however noted that a lot of awareness is needed to inform the public about these machines since the government is planning to procure more machines that will cost 3.5 US million dollars which is already budgeted and this is expectation will come to pass this year 2017.
Malac added: “Rapid diagnosis of TB will benefit the tens of thousands of Ugandans who suffer from this disease but it will be especially important for people living with HIV and children. The U.S. government is committed to improving the health and well-being of all Ugandans who deserve to live in a future free from the debilitating effects of TB”
The latest donation by Americans brings to 29 TB machines donated over the past four years aimed at reducing the burden of TB through USAID TRACK TB project working together with the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control program and this initiative part of U.S. government’s commitment to help end TB epidemic in Uganda may cost 12.5 US dollars
U.S. government has also helped in the renovation of the eleven anti-TB facilities since 2013 and that’s Mulago, Mbarara, Mbale, Gulu, Hoima, Kabale, Masaka, Fortptal, Lira, Soroti and Mubende and they have greatly improved the welfare of the TB patients. All referral hospital have gotten these GeneXpert machines and the tests are free and Kampala has 22 machines