A joint study conducted by the Ministry of Health and a team of TB researchers has recommended that tuberculosis screening be incorporated into other healthcare services such as antenatal care or other hospital visits.
Achilles Katamba, a researcher at the World Alliance for Lung and Intensive Care Medicine in Uganda (WALIMU) who led the study, reveals that their baseline investigations found that some individuals who suffer from TB ‘never show any symptoms.
Because of the lack of symptoms, these individuals continue spreading the infection unaware whereas some individuals who get symptoms fear being ridiculed and shun health care.
“As a solution to this, the researchers say study participants suggest TB screening just as people seek other health care services like how people get their blood pressure checked,” Katamba said.
The study was undertaken in Mpigi, Kampala and Wakiso districts where researchers visited households within their communities breaking the ‘practice of having cases detected at health facilities among people who seek care on their own mostly after getting suspicious symptoms.
On his part, Joseph Gita, a member of the research team said “Participants reported the bad attitude of health workers to be a huge turn-off for them to seek TB care”, saying that the medics stigmatize them once they mention symptoms consistent with the disease.
The findings come at a time when the Ministry of Health is grappling with a consistently high number of newly infected cases each year and a heightened threat of multi-drug resistant TB.