HIV/AIDS Fueling Increase in TB Cases in Uganda, Health Officials Says
Uganda's HIV/AIDS epidemic is fueling the spread of tuberculosis in the country, Joseph Imoko, the World Health Organization country officer for TB, said recently, IRIN/PlusNews reports. The number of reported TB cases increased by almost 12% between 2001 and 2005, the Ugandan Ministry of Health reports. Imoko said that when HIV/AIDS became more prevalent in Uganda, health officials noticed a "rapid increase in the number of" TB cases. He noted that many people who have TB also are HIV-positive.
Imoko also said that the distance required to reach health centers is a main challenge in fighting TB in Uganda. "When a person feels really sick, he or she will struggle to reach a health center no matter the distance, but when they feel a little better, the distance to cover determines whether they continue with the treatment." He added that many people do not continue taking medication when they feel better, even though they still might be contagious. In addition, inadequate health infrastructure, a lack of education about TB and insufficient sanitation are contributing to the rise in TB cases, IRIN/PlusNews reports. Imoko said most TB cases have been recorded in slums and camps for internally displaced persons, where overcrowding is common.
Uganda recently launched the three-year, $3 million Tuberculosis Control Assistance Program, which is funded by the U.S. and supports the health ministry's efforts to fight HIV/TB coinfection, Imoko said. The program is under way in 12 districts in the central, western, eastern and southwestern regions. The health ministry uses DOTS in an effort to ensure that people with TB adhere to treatment regimens, Imoko said (IRIN/PlusNews, 1/22).