Kigali, March 24, 2021.Rwanda has joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 2021 World Tuberculosis Day under the theme: “The Clock Is Ticking.” The day is designed to increase awareness of the public about the TB diagnosis, treatment and prevention in order to ensure that any Rwandan suffering from TB has access to adequate TB care, including diagnosis, treatment and cure.
Rwanda has made a significant progress in tuberculosis diagnosis, treatment and prevention over years. Based on WHO Global Tuberculosis reports, the incidence of tuberculosis in Rwanda has decreased from 96 patients per 100.000 population in 2000 to 57 patients per 100.000 population, published in the latest WHO Global TB report in 2020. This decline of TB incidence in Rwanda represents a decrease of 41% in last 20 years.
Dr. Daniel Ngamije, the Minister of health said that Rwanda has made good progress and impressive achievements because of strong political commitment of the Government of Rwanda as well as unconditional participation of the community.
“We have strong health workers that support us in TB diagnosis even during this stressful situation of covid-19 pandemic. TB patients continued to get medications on time.”
Jean de Dieu Ntirenganya a TB patient at Murunda Hospital in Rutsiro District commends work done by the Community Health Workers during the lockdown.
“I had a cough and went to hospital, the test results revealed that I was diagnosed with tuberculosis. That time, I was immediately put on medications. It was not easy to access treatment due to the lockdown during Covid-19; however, we were lucky because community health workers could bring me medicines at home “said Ntirenganya .
In terms of tuberculosis screening and diagnosis, there has been an extension of high sensitive TB screening and diagnosis by revising tools including new strategy for systematic chest X-Ray as screening tool for people living with HIV newly enrolled with aim to reduce undetected TB cases and promote early diagnosis. Currently ,across the country, 69 GeneXpert machines are in use for tuberculosis diagnosis in all hospitals and in some health centres with high tuberculosis notification rate.
Regarding tuberculosis management and treatment outcomes, tuberculosis commodities are generally and consistently available at health facilities level for patients’ treatment. Among 5,678 tuberculosis patients all forms susceptible and drug resistant patients: 76, were all initiated on treatment during 2019-2020 fiscal year. A good treatment success rate was registered for susceptible tuberculosis patients (86.4%), and 86.7% for Rifampicin Resistance/Multi Drug Resistant tuberculosis patients notified for the cohort of 2018-2019 fiscal year. The target is to reach and go above 90% of treatment success rate.
In Rwanda, as for the year 2019-2020, total TB cases all forms detected were 5,678 and among them 930 (16.4%) were brought by CHWs; TB among Children under 15 years remains at 6%; while TB cases were notified among the high-risk groups (PLHIV, Prisoners, TB contacts, children under 15 years and people aged of 55 years and above) are at 50.4%; Treatment success rate in TB drug susceptible (cured and treatment completed) is at 86.4%; Treatment success rate in MDR (cured and treatment completed) is 86.7%. Rwanda started the implementation of the Tuberculosis Preventive Therapy (TPT) among People Living with HIV in 5 district hospitals and countrywide scale up will be done this year.
World Tuberculosis Day, commemorated on March 24th each year, is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries. It celebrates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus.