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Only 72 percent of TB patients complete treatment

TB medication

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Only 72% of TB patients complete treatment. This is according to Dr Stavia Turyahabwe, the Assistant Commissioner for the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme.

Turyahabwe says this creates worry as those who don’t complete their doses risk spreading multi-drug resistant TB in addition to developing resistance themselves.

Last year, 1,500 of the 86,000 people that newly tested for Tuberculosis in the country had the drug-resistant strain. That means that they couldn’t be treated by the readily available and cheap antibiotic rifampicin.

She said the same technique is used to diagnose both types of TB.

28% of those on treatment now don’t complete their doses and spread drug-resistant strains that are now baffling health workers to treat and yet hope for better treatments in the near future seem grim as the World Health Organization revealed in its new reports released last Friday that antibiotics that are currently being researched on may not be very helpful.

In two new reports that show progress for antibacterial drugs that are in clinical development, WHO reveals that 60 new products where 50 are antibiotics and 10 biologics which are being developed show little benefit to existing treatments.

They note that very few of them target drug-resistant strains that are becoming a global challenge and yet those that show some success will take long before being rolled out for general use.

The organization has published a list of 12 pathogens that are posing a great threat to human health including the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, pneumonia, cholera and gonorrhoea that have been resisting most of the existing medications.

Of the 50 antibiotics that are being studied for future use, 32 are targeted to treat those 12 key pathogens that WHO has urged scientists and countries to give specific attention. In addition to these, there some other 252 drugs which are in very early stages that they have not yet been proved to be effective but also target the 12.

Of all these products, the report shows only two to five are showing progress in tackling tuberculosis and diarrhoea which they predict will only be available in about 10 years.

According to Turyahabwe, the new revelations by the WHO are worrying to them considering that the country is registering an increase in the number of people resisting available treatments and not just for TB but also other bacterial infections.

In his remarks last week as the reports were being released, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General urged countries and the pharmaceutical industry to step up and contribute sustainable funding for innovative new medicines that give hope.

Uganda is so far not doing any research on resistance, according to Turyahabwe but she says they are embarking on creating serious awareness especially in the area of TB since resistance happens when the bacteria is exposed to sub-optimal doses of the drugs.

In the new global fund grants that the country is set to receive, $29million will go towards TB.

The plan is to use some of these funds for awareness.

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