News from Africa

IOM Screens over 347,000 for TB in Western Ghana

Té / 30 May 2014

A landmark health screening project will close today (30/5) in Western Ghana. IOM’s TB REACH project, implemented by the Ghana Health Service and the IOM Migration Health Unit, was launched a year ago to intensify tuberculosis (TB) detection among refugees and host communities, miners and mining communities, border communities and urban vulnerable communities.

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 30, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)

The project had four main activities: enhanced coordination and monitoring among stakeholders; community mobilization and cough screening; mobile TB screening utilizing a GeneXpert machine; and capacity building of a selected TB diagnostic and/or treatment centre.

Over the past year, the project reached 347,263 individuals in five locations in Western Region. They included Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan (172,443), Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal (68,429), Prestea-Huni Valley Municipal (55,537), Ellembelle District (38,004) and Jomoro District (12,850).

A custom-made mobile diagnostic van carrying two four-module GeneXpert MTB/RIF machines was used during outreach efforts and provided same day screening/results for tested individuals.

Every day 174 trained community health volunteers worked in pairs, talking to people about their health, TB, how it is spread, the new screening process and the availability of free treatment.

As of 16 May 2014, the mobile medical team had registered 4,327 people and tested 3,888 for TB. Of the total tested, 230 (5.9 per cent) were diagnosed with TB and referred to the nearest national TB treatment centre.

The project team has so far received feedback from the TB treatment centres confirming that 168 (73 per cent) individuals have enrolled in a treatment programme and more information is expected. Once treated, individuals can make a full recovery and enjoy a better quality of life.

To ensure continuity following the close of the project, five laboratory technicians (one in each target location) were trained on GeneXpert One TB diagnostic, and one treatment centre will be provided with a centrifuge, a water distiller plant, a refrigerator and fridge thermometers.

Commenting on the outcome of the project, Dr. Aden Guliye, Head, IOM Ghana Migration Health Unit, explained: “The success of this project will provide evidence-based programming for TB control in Ghana. In view of the progress made so far, there is potential for such a programme to be replicated in other regions of Ghana and other countries in West Africa.”

TB REACH is a global programme spearheaded by the Stop TB Partnership and funded by the Canadian International Development Agency.

As of 2011, WHO data shows that Ghana has TB incidence and prevalence rates of 79 and 92 per 100,000 population respectively, with a 78 per cent national detection rate for all forms of TB.

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