Rwanda: Regional health experts meet to discuss drug resistant TB

Medical practitioners from eight regional countries have kicked off a week-long seminar

Medical practitioners from eight regional countries have kicked off a week-long seminar, in Kigali, on handling severe tuberculosis, commonly known as Drug Resistant TB.

Drug Resistant TB occurs when the bacteria becomes resistant to drugs used to treat the disease, and according to experts, this is mainly brought about by mismanagement or misuse of the drugs.

The course that started in Kigali is dubbed Programmatic Management of Drug Resistant (PMDR) Tuberculosis.

According to Dr Michel Gasana, the head of Tuberculosis and Other Respiratory Communicable Diseases in the Ministry of Health, Rwanda is one of the few countries in Africa with a Centre of Excellence for PMDR.

"We are teaching medical personnel specialising in tuberculosis the best practices of managing and treating this kind of tuberculosis so they can initiate them in their own countries," Gasana said.

He stated that so far, Rwanda had made some ground in managing and treating Drug Resistant Tuberculosis, adding that other countries could learn a lot from this.

Gasana said that patients with Drug Resistant Tuberculosis are put on a two-year treatment.

"One patient requires around Rwf 3 million for treatment and other nutritional requirements," Gasana added.

Gasana further mentioned that health workers are also dispatched to various parts of the country to sensitise and educate people about tuberculosis prevention and treatment. TB patients who receive treatment in Rwanda range between 7,000 to 8,000 annually.

He noted that an average of 80 Drug Resistant Tuberculosis patients also receive treatment every year in Rwanda.

Dr George Mapiye, from Zimbabwe, said he hoped to learn more about PMDR tuberculosis management in Rwanda.

"We have cases of this severe tuberculosis in Zimbabwe. The problem is we weren't prepared for it and didn't even have the drugs.

"I hope to learn how Rwanda and other countries that are treating and handling it, through this training to improve infection control measures as well," Mapiye said.

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Published: Sept. 6, 2011, 12:26 p.m.

Last updated: Sept. 6, 2011, 12:27 p.m.

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