The U.S Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Deborah Malac has handed over nine Tuberculosis (TB) machines worth $17,000 each (about Shs546, 210,000) to the health ministry, as part of efforts to strengthen Uganda’s capacity to fight the chronic disease.
Unlike the time consuming microscopes which collect TB samples on two different days to obtain a confirmed diagnosis, the GeneXpert TB machines accurately diagnose a TB patient with in just two hours.
Ambassador Malac noted the critical role this new equipment would help in keeping Ugandans safe and healthy.
“Rapid diagnosis of TB will benefit the tens of thousands of Ugandans who suffer from this disease – but it will be especially important for people living with HIV and children,” she said at a ceremony held at the Ministry headquarters on Friday.
Ms Malac added that: “The U.S. government is committed to improving the health and well-being of all Ugandans, who deserve to live in a future free from the debilitating effects of TB.”
The 2016 national TB prevalence survey has also revealed that 41,000 TB patients are not detected annually, encumbering government efforts in the fight against the disease putting the prevalence of TB in children at 36 cases per 100,000.
Despite the country’s high TB prevalence Ms Sarah Opendi, the State Minister of Health for General Duties, said that the government has done a lot that Uganda is privileged to be one of the few countries in Africa who know their prevalence.
“With this additional equipment, we shall be able ensure that additional detection is done,” Ms Opendi stated.
So far, Ms Opendi said that, 112 health facilities in over 60 districts across the country are equipped with the GeneXpert TB machines promising that the ministry will ensure to put the equipment to good use.
However, the minister said more 344 machines are still needed to achieve their target of having all the government hospitals and Health centers 1V equipped with the GeneXpert machines by 2020.
The handover follows the donation of 20 GeneXpert machines by the U.S. government over the past four years.