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Ministry rolls out TB treatment programme

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

MASERU — The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is rolling out massive TB treatment and prevention programme for people living with HIV.
Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT) is an important intervention for preventing and reducing active TB in communities affected by HIV.
It can prevent millions of people from being infected with active TB.
Also called TB prophylaxis, the Isoniazid tablet is given to people infected with HIV and are not on TB treatment.
The National TB Programme Manager in the Health Ministry, Dr Llang Maama, said the idea behind the IPT is to reduce the chances of TB in people infected with HIV.
“The IPT is given to people who are on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) who are not infected with TB.
“After a person living with HIV is screened for TB and the screening tool comes out negative, they are put on the IPT,” said Maama.
“The idea is to reduce the risk of them catching the TB bacteria”.
She said that people on IPT are screened regularly for TB.
“If the screening tool comes out positive, the patient is immediately put out of the prophylaxis and TB is investigated.
“If the TB is detected then the person is enrolled on the TB treatment.”
HIV patients are highly susceptible to opportunistic diseases like TB because their immune system is compromised.
Lesotho has the third highest HIV prevalence rate in the world at 23.5 percent.
The HIV prevalence rate is highest in the 30 to 39-year demographic groups at 40 percent.
According to the 2011 World Health Organisation Global Tuberculosis report, Lesotho has an incidence of 633 TB cases per 100 000 populations.
Maama said last year about 12 630 people were enrolled for TB treatment.
“About 76.2 percent of those were people living with HIV.”
She added that even though the IPT is not compulsory yet it is highly recommended.
“We are currently initiating the programme and we communicate it with the patients.
“Ever since the roll-out started last year in August, not one has declined to accept the drug.”
The roll-out started in Roma and Berea hospitals.
It was further rolled out to Baylor Children’s Clinic, Scott Hospital, Mokhotlong, Butha-Buthe and Mohale’s Hoek.
The plan is provide the drug at all hospitals and other health centres around the country.
Maama said the ministry is currently studying how people are adhering to the drug.
IPT is one of the key interventions recommended by WHO in 1998 to reduce the burden of TB in people living with HIV.

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