Health professionals, others explore ways to contain TB, lung diseases in Africa
A four-day international conference on tuberculosis (TB) and other lung diseases is underway in Accra.
It aims to contribute to TB and lung disease control in the African region through research presentations, workshops and discussions.
More than 600 participants from different parts of the world are attending the conference, which is being held on the theme: “Accelerating implementation through partnerships to end TB, HIV/TB, tobacco and other related non-communicable diseases (NCDs)”.
It is being organised by the Union Africa Region, a health-based non-governmental organisation, and is the 20th edition by the organisation
Participants will share knowledge on the latest clinical, scientific, social and programmatic topics on TB, NCDs, TB/HIV, tobacco and other lung health diseases.
The conference agenda also includes various symposia on host-pathogen interactions, drug-resistant TB, TB/HIV co-infection, TB in vulnerable populations, communities and civil society, as well as TB and innovative technologies and programme delivery.
Other areas to be covered by the conference include epidemiology, health systems and advocacy, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Stop TB Partnership and other institutions.
Participants include researchers, healthcare professionals such as doctors, public health nurses, clinical nurses, pharmacists and laboratory technologists, as well as public health administrators, civil society, pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment manufacturers working on TB and lung disease controls in Africa.
At a press briefing in Accra yesterday, prior to the opening of the conference, Dr Jeremiah Chakaya Muhwa, the President of the union, said this year’s conference would discuss not only issues but also focus on finding solutions to lung problems.
The union, he said, was in 90 countries in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, South-East Asia and North America.
He said members were affiliated by region and they worked together to organise regional conferences on TB, lung health and related topics.
For her part, Dr Paula Fugiwara, the Scientific Director of the International Union Against TB and Lung Diseases, said about 500,000 people in the world had TB which cannot be treated due to drug resistance.
Accordingly, she said, new drug regimes were to be introduced soon to fight TB and reduce drug resistance in the treatment of the disease.
Dr Muyabala Munachitombwe-Muna, the Union Africa Region President, was of the view that Africa’s health challenge was not how many drugs were available for treatment but changes in the environment and awareness creation which could prevent TB and other lung diseases.
“People should take charge of their own lives to prevent illnesses,” he said.
He called for a stop to the stigmatisation of people with TB, so that more people could come out and seek treatment.
On Ghana, the Chair of the Conference Organising Committee, Dr Frank Bonsu, who is also the Head of the National TB Control Programme of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said the country’s target on TB was to reduce new infections.
He said the TB Control Programme recorded15,000 new cases yearly but noted that that was on the low side, as the country lacked sophisticated equipment to detect new strains of TB.