Lesotho. Moeketsi Rathulo has multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and he is kept in an isolation room. He was working at the mines in South Africa and got very sick with MDR-TB, his family left him because he was not sending money home when he was there, here a nurse taking care of him at the Maseru TB hospital. Lesotho is a mountainous country located entirely within the borders of South Africa. It is home to more than 2 million people and has one of the highest HIV burdens in the world, with between 23 and 30% of the population estimated to be infected with the disease (UNAIDS 2004). Lesotho is also burdened by a high rate of TB, with an incidence of 465 per 100,000 population reported in 2005 (10,363 cases), making it the country with the fourth highest incidence in the world. Lesotho is likely in the midst of a public health disaster, where a drug-resistant TB epidemic and HIV epidemic are colliding, one fueling the other. An estimated 950 new MDR-TB patients will be diagnosed every year in Lesotho. Low TB cure rates and heavy migration to and from South Africa are likely to exacerbate the problem of drug-resistant TB. It is estimated that up to 70 percent of men living in rural Lesotho migrate to South Africa for work.

…..as government grapples with cost of treatment

Ghana has recorded its first Extensively Drug-Resistant (EDR) Tuberculosis (TB), Head of the National Tuberculosis Control Program(NTCP) Dr. Frank Adae Bonsu disclosed here on Friday.

According to him the victim of the infection which had been reported to authorities by Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) the country’s most advanced and most sophisticated medical research center has also passed away.

Dr Bonsu who disclosed this during a media sensitization ahead of the annual World TB Day commemoration emphasized that Ghana has gotten to a stage where multi-sectoral involvement in the fight to eradicate TB in the country.

“We need leaders to fight the new menace which is coming to Ghana, a drug-resistance TB. I am not proud to announce that Ghana has reported its first case of XDR TB, an extensively drug-resistance TB. This type of TB is resistant to all forms of treatment; If we do not wake up to contain it and this breaks out as an epidemic, we are finished as a country,” the Director cautioned.

He urged that Ghana’s air must be free of TB infection and the only way to do this was through getting immediate treatment for patients adding that , financing for treatment services was one of the most difficult challenge facing the sector.

In 2017 alone there were 14,000 reported TB cases in the West African country with the cost burden of TB on a patient estimated at about 2,728 US Dollars which outstrips the main annual household income of 2,578 dollars per annum of an average TB patient prior to contracting the disease.

Dr. Bonsu explained that there is a heavy loss of income to the TB patient since they cannot continue working until they are fully treated.

The sector spends its budgetary allocation not only for treatment of the patients but also to support them throughout the treatment period as they spend a lot in transportation, feeding associated medication among other costs while at the same time suffering income loss.

“We need finances to prevent the catastrophic loss the epidemic brings on our society. We need it to visit the patients; to provide them with transportation, and to supplement their finances,” Dr. Bonsu explained.

He added: “The sector needs at least 18 million dollars annually to carry out all of its activities, but we received just two million dollars out of that budget last year, besides the free treatment given to the patients,.”

The financial mechanism involving a five million dollars annual external support Ghana used to receive to complement national budget through the Global Fund Partnership to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria had also been taken away as a result of Ghana’s new Lower Middle Income Status.

Meanwhile 35 percent of TB patients in Ghana are not under the National Health Insurance Scheme.

Later in an interview, Deputy Director of the NTCP, Dr. Yaw Adusei Poku said there was an 87 percent recovery rate for TB in Ghana.

“Early reporting, support by loved ones to ensure that patients adhere to their treatment regimes among others help in successful treatment,” he stressed. Enditem

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