13 September 2016
. . . 300 recorded this year
THE country continues to detect more drug-resistant tuberculosis cases with more than 300 having been found this year, Minister of Health and Child Care David Parirenyatwa said.
Minister Parirenyatwa said drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) was emerging as a new public health threat with statistics indicating that the cases were increasing.
“Our statistics from the time we introduced and started expanding access to rapid DR-TB molecular testing namely using GeneXpert for diagnosis have shown that more cases of DR-TB are being identified.
“DR-TB cases have been increasing annually from 118 cases in 2011 to 468 in 2015 and by the middle of this year we had identified 319 cases.
“Our thrust in addressing this new threat is early identification of disease and free access to care and treatment with second line anti-TB medicines,” he said.
He added that Extreme drug resistant TB was also becoming a huge challenge after the DR-TB.
DR-TB is said to be caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that has developed a genetic mutation (s) such that a particular drug (s) is no longer effective against the bacteria.
An outline of treatment of TB in Zimbabwe and its costs shows drug susceptible TB costs $31 for a course of six to nine months while Dr-TB medication is taken for 20 to 24 months and costs $2 571 per patient and for extensive drug resistant TB which takes 24 to 36 months to be treated, the cost is $31 000 per person.
The nation is in the process of carrying out a DR-TB survey which is set to be completed by end of September and this will give accurate statistics on the burden of the epidemic.
Deputy director HIV/AIDS and TB programme in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Charles Sandy, concurred that DR-TB was emerging as a new public health threat adding that the survey which is almost complete will help the country know the exact burden.
“As you know that DR-TB is very expensive to treat, we are carrying out a survey to determine the burden and we hope the survey will help us plan.
“TB on its own remains a major public health challenge and with the emerging of the DR-TB cases, the country faces a mammoth task to ensure that all TB cases are found and treated to reduce the burden of DR-TB cases.
“Early detection of susceptible TB is the first point of entry and ensure that they are all treated as we urge all those on treatment to complete treatment to avoid any chances of developing DR-TB,” added Dr Sandy.