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Ghana records 19,000 TB cases in 2023

Ghana in 2023 recorded 19, 000 Tuberculosis cases, a huge increase over the 16,500 cases in 2022 and the previous years, the National TB Control Programme, Ghana Health Service, has disclosed.

The country in 2014, 2015 up to 2019 recorded about 14,000 to 15,000 cases against the 44, 000 cases expected to be detected annually.

Dr Yaw Adusi-Poku, the Programme Manager, National TB Control Programme (NTP), said out of the 19,000 cases, five per cent were children, which did not meet the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) target.

According to the WHO out of every total TB population in a country, eight to 10 per cent of the diagnosing should be children, this means that Ghana has not met the target therefore more diagnosis needed to be done.

Dr Adusi-Poku made this known at a day’s training for journalists in Accra to equip them with the necessary knowledge and tools to track the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis (UNHLM TB) 2023 commitments and targets specific to Ghana.

The training was orga
nised by the Ghana National TB Voice Network (GNTBVN) under the Challenge Facility for Civil Society (CFCS) Round 12 grant.

The NTP Programme Manager indicated that more of the cases were picked up during the year under review because the Gene-Xperts and Cartridges needed for effective TB diagnosis were available.

Gene-Xperts is a machine that is used for early detection in TB diagnosis and uses Cartridges.

He said aside the Gene-Xperts, other interventions put in place such as the stool testing for children helped in getting more cases over the period.

‘Throughout 2023, there were no shortages of cartridges. We got cartridges from the COVID funds, through proposals that we wrote, therefore the supply was constant.

Trained health workers were also ready to screen cases and picked people who were presumed to have the pathogen, got them tested and because the cartridges were available for testing, we got this number of cases,’ he added.

Dr Adusi-Poku said with the number of cases, they believe more could
be done when the needed resources were available, saying we need support for additional cartridges from government, individuals, and institutions.

Dr Adusi-Poku said currently, there were cartridges available, which was a roll over from 2023 but was not sure if it would be enough for 2024, through to 2025 and 2026 unless government came in to support.

He said out of the 261 districts in Ghana there were only 171 Gene-Xperts which was not enough for early TB diagnosis in the districts.

‘We have about 261 districts, and we have 171 Gene-Xperts so we need to expand, make it accessible so that the mother or care giver wouldn’t travel for long for the test. Just go to the health centre and get diagnosed,’ he added.

The Programme Manager explained that the districts without the Gene-Xperts did sample transportation system, where the samples are taken to the teaching hospitals for diagnosis, and that it took two weeks to get the results.

He called for the support of all, including the media, teachers especially
those in the nursery and kindergarten schools to monitor the health chart of children under five to see if there was fault in their growth to help detect TB in children early.

He also appealed to parliament to support the NTP by amending the procurement laws to allow them to purchase cartridges and first-line medicines and resources to build the capacity of health workers to curb the spread of TB.

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease which most often affects the lungs. It is caused by a type of bacteria which spreads through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or spits.

Symptoms of TB include prolonged cough (sometimes with blood), chest pain, weakness, fatigue, weight loss, fever, and night sweats.

Mr Samuel Hackman, the Executive Secretary of the Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism, speaking on the mandate of the Global Fund called for domestic funding for TB interventions in the country.

He said this was crucial because under the current Global Fund Grant Cycle 7 (GC7) co-fin
ancing commitment by the government, there was no allocation for TB.

He said despite the Government’s support, more commitment was needed to ensure that the bottlenecks in the procurement and financial laws that prevented the country from doing advanced purchases were changed.

‘If these can be addressed with the urgency that we did with Covid vaccines, then we should be able to do same for TB.

This is a human right issue, in other to be seen as fair and equitable in the distribution and care for people who fall sick in the country, nobody should be left behind whether it is TB, HIV or Malaria.

Mr Jerry Amoah-Larbi, the Coordinator, Ghana National TB Voice Network, said the media were partners in the fight against TB hence the training The objective of this training would focus on providing knowledge on TB high-level advocacy.

It would also create awareness, and activism initiatives to support and contribute to the attainment of the UNHLM TB 2023 targets on Tuberculosis Preventive Treatment (TPT) and the
GC7 government co-financing commitments.

Source: Ghana News Agency