Ghana needs $25.6m to meet targets on TB

Ghana needs approximately $25.6 million to meet the 2022 United Nations High Level Meeting (UNHLM) targets on Tuberculosis (TB)

The declaration, signed onto by Heads of States in 2018 contained a number of targets to treat at least 40 million people with TB by 2022; 3.5 million children with TB, 1.5 million people with drug-resistant TB and at least 30 million on TB preventive treatment.

Head of the National Tuberculosis Control Programme (NTCP), Dr Yaw Adusi-Poku at a media workshop in Accra on Friday, said Ghana as a signatory to the treaty, had made slow progress on key indicators including case detection, diagnosis, contact tracing and preventive therapy against TB.

These, he attributed to low political will, lack of funds and requisite logistics, to tackle the disease which is a huge public health risk.

“For instance, case detection dropped from 14,749 in 2019 to 12,602 in 2020 and about 6,604 so far recorded this year,” he said.

Dr Adusi-Poku said the programme was in critical need of Gene Xpert machines to intensify screening, diagnosis and treatment of TB across the country.

“We have only 133 Gene Xpert machines in 50 per cent of health facilities in the country and that is woefully inadequate to screen people in all 261 districts of the country.

The programme manager said the country would need 138 more Gene Xpert machines costing at least $17,000 each, and X-ray machines to particularly test children of the disease.

He appealed to the government, corporate organisations and philanthropists to support the programme to reduce TB prevalence in the country.

Dr Adusi-Poku cautioned the public to look out for TB which was highly contagious as COVID-19 as both had respiratory symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, fever and weakness.

“If you are close to someone coughing, encourage him or her to go for screening. We all need to be each other’s keeper.

Both COVID-19 and TB have similar symptoms so we encourage that as much as people test for COVID-19, test for TB. Testing and treatment is free at the health facilities,” he stated.

Mr David Kwesi Afreh, Board Chairman of the Stop TB Partnership, organisers of the workshop, called on the government to increase investment to the fight against TB.

He said the current situation where 192 out of every 100,000 Ghanaians had TB was worrying urging stakeholders to turn attention to the infectious disease.

TB, spread through respiratory droplets through coughs and sneezes mostly attacks the lungs and lead to disabilities and sometimes deaths.

TB is preventable and curable and can be successfully treated within six months to a year depending on drug acceptance.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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