Patients battling the multi drug resistant TB strain have got a ray of hope following the inauguration of a new unit at Mulago national referral hospital. Dr. Isaac Lwanga Principal Medical Officer at Infectious Diseases Institute says that the new multi-drug –resistant tuberculosis- MDR-TB unit makes the fifth of such units. Others are in Gulu, Fortportal, Lira and Mbarara.
The units provide practical clinical advice on management of MDR-TB. I an interview with Uganda Radio Network on Friday, Dr. Lwanga explained that globally an estimated 630,000 patients have MDR-TB.
He says so far 5 cases of MDR TB have been diagnosed at Infectious Diseases Institute, but referred for closer observation in MDR-TB units.
Dr.Lwanga explained that MDR – TB is a killer disease, yet the cost of medication and management are extremely high for ordinary patients. He says a patient needs on average 20 to 50 USD for each TB treatment that lasts 6-8 months, while an MDR-TB patient requires between 2000 to 4000 USD for each treatment for 2 years. In addition to these challenges, patients do not adhere to treatment causing further resistance such as the extra drug resistance (XDR-TB). Dr.Lwanga says.
Previously, patients with MDR-TB were kept in isolation to prevent on ward transmission of the diseases to other patients. According to the 2012 statistics Uganda records over 50,000 cases of Tuberculosis, but close to 5000 patients fail to adhere to treatment. Dr. Lwanga says TB drugs manifest side effects that make it hard for patients to cope with.
Elizabeth Tindyebwa, the chairperson of the Patient’s Council at IDI says TB patients who may also be HIV positive need closer monitoring and support.
Cases of Extra Drug resistant TB have not been identified in Uganda, but Dr. Lwanga says South Africa has already reported such a case.