Health Ministry urges TB patients to use medications

─ on World TB DAY

The Ministry of Health is taking all necessary steps to ensure patients with Tuberculosis (TB) receive the critical treatment they need. 

Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony said one of the major challenges the ministry is experiencing is ensuring persons take the regimen of medication.

Tuberculosis

His comment came Thursday, as Guyana joined the rest of the world in observance of “World TB Day”   

He said some 500 persons in Guyana are currently living with active TB.

“It is one of those diseases where you have to be on treatment for a relatively long period of time, in some cases between four to nine months you have to be on treatment, and if your treatment is0 interrupted for whatever reason, then that can pose a challenge, because sometimes the person can develop multiple drug resistance TB, which is even more difficult to treat,” he said.

The minister noted that the Directly Observed Therapy (DOTS) workers ensure persons on medication stay on course.

“They would go home to the patient and be able to observe them taking their medication and in that way, we get batter compliance and we prevent defaulting and we also prevent people from getting multiple drug resistance TB,” Dr. Anthony said.

This programme experienced some difficulties during the early period of the Covid-19 pandemic. The team improvised and used ‘video dots’ where the patients recorded themselves taking the medication.

The health minister reported that with the drop in Covid-19 cases, the routine home visits are back on schedule. 

“Nevertheless, we made sure that we have the types of medication to treat these patients, so if we find patients with multiple resistance TB, we are able to treat them because we have the meds available,” Dr Anthony said.

Regarding Covid-19 and TB, Minister Anthony said it is one of the comorbidities that could cause hospitalisation. He said depending on the severity of the illness in patients, doctors would make an assessment on how best to provide treatment.

Persons can get TB from being exposed to the cough of an infected person. Some common symptoms include weight loss, low grade fever, persistent coughing with blood and night sweats.

“We would see persons who would have active TB also can get with covid and that can be a challenge in terms of how they are managed,” Dr. Anthony said.

 He explained further that the signs and symptoms of TB are totally different from the current upper respiratory effects of the Omicron Variant, and with chest x-rays and clinical analysis, doctors could make the diagnosis easily.

One of the fallacies is that TB only affects the lungs, but you can have extra pulmonary TB, meaning TB outside of the lung. I have seen a case many years ago, where someone had TB in their knee and that’s quite rare but it can happen.

Some people might be infected and I could be what is called a latent disease, so you don’t have any signs or symptoms of it, but its dormant in your body, and some people when they get infected, right away they will manifest with active TB,” Dr Anthony said.

Dr. Anthony noted that the ministry has kept the centers open and persons can access the local medical facilities for services.

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