GOVERNMENT should invest in the decentralization of medical equipment and new technologies to improve the treatment of HIV/TB to reduce expenses and ease access.
Community Intervention for TB, HIV/AIDS and Malaria (CITAM) executive director Carol Kachenga said there was need to provide hi-tech equipment at all provincial and district health facilities to enable people access services easily with minimum expenses.
She said there was need for the Government to invest in modern equipment such as the GeneXpert machine and viral load testing equipment which were both used in the monitoring of drugs resistance in TB and HIV patients on medication respectively.
“There is only one GeneXpert machine in the whole country with over 750,000 patients on antiretroviral therapy, some of whom have to travel long distances from other provinces to Lusaka, at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH). “But what we need is modern equipment and trained personnel to provide these specialised services at all provincial health facilities if we are to be in line with global efforts in eradicating TB and HIV deaths by 2020,” Ms Kachenga said.
She explained that most challenges in the treatment of the two diseases were as a result of the absence of modern day medical equipment and reagents necessary in the monitoring of issues of drugs resistance as well as the effects of medication on reducing the quantity of virus in a patient’s body. Ms Kachenga said technology had evolved in the treatment of TB and HIV, and it had proved difficult to rely on old practices of using sputum and CD4 count in the detection and screening of patients’ improvements or otherwise. Traditionally, TB was diagnosed by looking for evidence of TB bacteria either through the use of the chest X-ray, through sputum smear microscopy, or through the culturing of bacteria, but the tests had disadvantages such as inaccuracy and long periods of waiting for results.
She advised the Ministry of Health to prioritise capacity building in modern equipment and expertise in human resource to help improve the treatment of both TB and HIV in the country.