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Policy Brief - Uganda’s Capacity to Diagnose Tuberculosis (TB)


“Considerable technological advances have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of TB but they remain less accessible to the communities that need it the most. Only 2/3 of the global reported TB cases are confirmed by a laboratory test. The widely available microscopy is less sensitive and requires high interpretative skill while the traditional mycobacterial culture is complex, marred by contamination and long time to result, which emphasises the urgent need for molecular diagnostics. The WHO (World Health Organisation) approved Xpert MTB/Rif and Line probe assay for rapid detection of TB and drug resistance have been laboratory evaluated and found implementable. Implementation remains limited to a few regional or national centres and we (the TWENDE Consortium) are asking why?”

This quote, extracted from the EDCTP approved TWENDE Research Proposal, is a premise on which the TWENDE research and advocacy project was proposed and designed. TWENDE in full stands for Tuberculosis: Working to Empower the Nations’ Diagnostic Efforts.

The TWENDE Consortium consists of the following institutions:

  • Uganda - CPAR Uganda Ltd and Makerere University Kampala 
  • Tanzania – Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute and National Institute for Medical Research (Mbeya Medical Research Centre) 
  • Kenya – the Kenya Medical Research Institute 
  • East African Community - East African Health Research Commission 
  • United Kingdom - University of St. Andrews (TWENDE Consortium Coordinator)

Ms. Norah Owaraga, the researcher who authored this policy brief, is the Managing Director of CPAR Uganda Ltd and as an expert cultural anthropologist she is the Social Scientist for TWENDE. In this policy brief Ms. Owaraga, utilising findings of an online survey that was conducted by TWENDE and Uganda’s population statistics, demonstrates how the premise holds true for Uganda on which TWENDE was proposed and designed.

Ms. Owaraga’s comparative analysis that is contained in this policy brief provides insights not only into Uganda’s overall capacity to diagnose TB, but it also provides detailed analysis of the capacity to diagnose TB within the different geographic regions of the Country. Ms. Owaraga discusses the implications of Uganda’s current capacity to diagnose TB and suggests questions for further research and possible actions to be taken if Uganda is truly going to rid itself of TB; or at the very least slow down its TB infection rate and therefore significantly reduce those that TB afflicts in Uganda.

Read the full policy brief here 

Image Credit: Rachel Mabala, Daily Monitor: “L-R State Minister for Health Ms. Sarah Opendi receiving GeneXpert tuberculosis machines from the United States Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Malac Deborah.”