New TB detection technology boosts treatment rate
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TREATMENT initiation rate for Tuberculosis (TB) diagnosed patients rose by 20 per cent by last March, thanks to opening of a new detection facility in Dar es Salaam.

The detection facility that uses the African giant pouched rats, ‘HeroRATs’ was inaugurated in November last year to detect the disease. The Belgian organisation, APOPO, is the brain behind the technology.

Sokoine University of Agriculture Apopo TB Tanzania, Programme Manager Georges Mgode told the ‘Daily News’ yesterday that the Dar es Salaam-based new laboratory has helped to reduce waiting time for patients to get their diagnosis results.

Dr Mgode said the suspected TB patients can now get their results within 24 hours instead of waiting for between eight and ten days. He said the technology has also helped to increase the number of TB patients who start treatment right away after being diagnosed with the disease.

Dr Mgode further said that the treatment initiation rate for TB patients diagnosed under the technology increased from 73 per cent last year to 93 per cent last March.

“We are working hard to achieve our target of 95 per cent... we have succeeded by 100 per cent in some hospitals but we are still facing some challenges in other facilities,” Dr Mgode said.

He said the treatment initiation rate which has been recorded involves only hospitals and health centres that work with Apopo in detecting the disease, hinting that there are 24 hospitals in Dar es Salaam, one in Coast Region and three in Morogoro region.

The Apopo HeroRATs helps in identification of many TB patients who were previously diagnosed negative, said Dr Mgode, adding that his organisation in collaboration with former TB patients association in Dar es Salaam, MKIKUTE, has managed to track patients and put them on treatment.

Statistics show that in 2011, 386 patients were detected with the diseases but only one received treatment while in 2012 only 47 out of the 555 diagnosed received medication.

But, in 2013, 1,020 patients were treated out of the diagnosed 1,807 patients. In 2014, 1,412 patients were detected with the disease and 777 were treated while in 2015 out of the 1,198 diagnosed patients, 870 received medication.

The programme manager insisted that timely provision of suspected TB patients with the results makes it easier to treat them. He said with the technology the country can combat TB because patients get the results early and receive treatment right away, reducing the chance of infecting other people.

World Health Organisation (WHO) reports show that TB prevalence in the country is still high, with Tanzania ranked sixth among the TB most affected nations.

Inaugurating the facility last year, the Director, Health Quality Assurance at the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Mohamed Mohamed, said the technology had helped to save lives of many people who could be infected by patients compelled to wait for long before getting their diagnosis results.

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