Speaking at the event to commemorate Uganda’s World Tuberculosis and Leprosy held in the northern Uganda city of Lira on May 6, Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said several interventions from the government and other support organizations in the country, Uganda still remains among the 30 high burden TB and HIV countries in the world.
According to the Health Minister, annually, an estimated 15,600 deaths are registered in Uganda. Currently, about 90,000 people still develop the disease every year, which the health ministry says is a big worry. Consequently, the government is planning to equip all major health facilities in the country with TB testing equipment starting next year. Currently the northern and north eastern parts of Uganda have the highest TB prevalence rates in the country.
During the global commemorations of the World TB Day that were held on March 24, the Global Fund made an urgent call for the world to reignite the fight to end tuberculosis (TB) by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended years of progress in the fight against TB. Deaths from the disease rose for the first time in more than a decade, fueled by a surge in undiagnosed and untreated cases.
“If we fail to step up the fight against TB, we must accept that we are effectively abandoning the 2030 goal to end the disease as a public health threat,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund.
“We must mount a massive effort to diagnose people quickly and get them the necessary treatment. TB is deadly and is the top infectious disease killer after COVID-19.”
In many countries, COVID-19 overwhelmed health systems, lockdowns disrupted service provision, and critical resources were diverted from the fight against HIV, TB and malaria to fight the new pandemic. But decades of effort fighting TB were not in vain. With the additional resources deployed, countries leveraged some of the best assets in the fight against TB to combat COVID-19. Community health workers, laboratories, diagnostic equipment, disease surveillance systems and other TB investments put
in place over the years gave countries a leg up in the fight against the new pandemic.
The Global Fund partnership has also supported the roll-out of bidirectional testing, where people are
simultaneously screened and tested for TB and COVID-19. In the future, it is likely this approach will be
expanded to other diseases.