Health ministry urges public to embrace TB screening ahead of World TB & Leprosy Day

MOH Director for health services Dr. Henry Mwebesa speaking during a media briefing today in Kampala; Courtesy Photo

Ugandans have been urged to be conscious about Tuberculosis and undertake screening for TB as a measure to prevent spread of the disease.

Officials from the Ministry of Health led by its Director of health services Dr. Henry Mwebesa made the call during a press briefing today ahead of the World TB & Leprosy Day commemorated annually on 24th March.

Dr. Mwebesa noted that Uganda is one of the top 30 countries in the world with a high number of TB cases and approximately 30 people in Uganda die from TB everyday.

World TB and Leprosy Day will be commemorated in Butaleja District Boma Grounds on 24th March 2023, and the guest of honor will be the Rt. Hon Prime Minister Robinah Nabanjja. This year’s theme is: TB kills 30 Ugandans everyday. Yes we can end TB.

TB is an infectious disease transmitted through air from one person with TB of the lungs through; coughing, laughing, singing or talking.

TB can also be transmitted through shaking someone’s hands, sharing food or drinks, touching bed linen or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes, and kissing. The disease affects mostly lungs but can also affect any part of the body.

The symptoms for TB include cough which lasts for 2 weeks or more; on and off cough, prolonged fever for more than 2 weeks, excessive night sweats, coughing blood or blood-stained sputum, unexplained weight loss, chest pain, swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpits.

According to the MOH, TB spread can be prevented by covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, use of a mask correctly at all times when in public or closed spaces, and avoiding crowded places.

In children, TB can be prevented through immunization at birth but going for testing and treatment as soon as you experience symptoms can prevent spread of TB in adults.

Dr. Mwebesa said people with the above mentioned symptoms should go for screening for TB in order to confirm their health status. He said government has acquired new diagnostic equipment to scale up the capacity to make screening easier.

Mwebesa stated that screening of the lungs for TB is going on in 11 districts this month of March ahead of World TB & Leprosy Day.

The cost of treating TB is high especially if treatment is received from private facilities which causes poverty but also, poor people are more likely to suffer from TB.

TB can affect people of all ages but record from the Ministry of Health indicate that TB is 4 times more common in men than women. TB medicines are available for free in health facilities countrywide.

The good news, Dr. Mwebesa said, is that treatment for TB is available in Uganda and it is free.

TB is curable if detected early and its treatment takes 6 months with a daily dose. The disease however may fail to respond to treatment if you don’t test early or if you don’t take medicines correctly.

However, the Ministry of Health notes that not all people with TB have cough, and many people with TB don’t even know they have it because the disease can lie dormant for years without a single symptom.



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