By Taddeo Bwambale
Uganda’s National TB Reference Laboratory based in Kampala is the best facility in diagnosis of TB-related diseases in East and Central Africa.
The lab has received the Supra National Reference Laboratory (SRL) certification in 2013 from the World Health Organization (WHO), making it one of only two such facilities in Africa.
Only 33 supranational tuberculosis reference labs exist worldwide.
The health ministry’s spokesperson, Rukia Nakamatte said the recognition was a sign of quality in diagnosis and research at the facility that comes second to another lab in South Africa.
Established in July last year, the lab provides in-country support in various areas of quality TB diagnosis and supports 13 other African countries which send samples to Uganda for testing.
The facility carries out rapid diagnosis of tuberculosis, including multi-resistant strains which have become due to non-compliance to treatment and supply related challenges.
As a result of improvements in testing and treatment, Uganda boasts of a 77% treatment success rate and the uptake of TB/HIV services has significantly improved to about 90%.
Tuberculosis remains a major global health problem. In 2012, an estimated 8.6 million people developed TB and 1.3 million died from the disease, including 320 000 deaths among HIV-positive people.
According to the Global Tuberculosis Report 2013, the rate of new TB cases has been falling worldwide for about a decade, although progress is generally considered low.
The report shows that Uganda is one of seven countries out of the 22 high-burden countries that have met the MDG targets for combating Tuberculosis.
The number of people dying due to Tuberculosis (TB) over the last 12 years was halved from 9,900 in 1990 to 4,700 in 2012.