The Minister of Health, Dr Ruth Aceng, has warned health workers at Lira Regional Referral Hospital against poor handling of tuberculosis (TB) patients, saying the negligence is creating more cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
Dr Aceng, who was speaking at the hospital on Thursday, accused the medical staff at the TB unit of negligence, stigma against TB patients and minimal monitoring and supervision of their patients on medication. She handed over two new MDR-TB wards built for the two regional referral hospitals of Soroti and Lira.
“If medical workers are not doing all that it takes, the general TB ward becomes the factory for MDR-TB. TB patients need to be counseled, encouraged, monitored and supervised during medication to make sure they are consistent in taking their drugs but am sure it is the contrary being done here and staff do not want to work at the TB wards,” Dr Acheng said.
Dr Aceng tasked the health workers to ensure TB patients are counseled, monitored and supervised during medication to stop the patients from developing drug resistance.
Dr Frank Mugabe, the national programme manager for TB and Leprosy in the Ministry of Health, said Lira hospital alone has 126 cases on treatment, slightly behind Mulago, which has 137 cases on treatment.
Speaking during the ceremony, Sr Helen Awor, the head of TB ward at Lira hospital, said: “Most medical workers decline assignments to the TB ward because of fear of infections and this has made it very difficult for us to monitor the progress of these patients and others end up neglecting their drug dosages.”
Ms Betty Ayo, 27, is one of the 10 MDR-TB victims who got healed of the infection recently, said she was diagnosed with the infection after abandoning treatment in 2013.
“I was on TB drugs for long but got discouraged when I could not get healed since I was not taking the dosage regularly and the hospital staff would not attend to or advise me on what to do,” she said.