Rwanda: Minister challenges experts to expand TB surveillance.

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the_health_minister.jpgKigali – The Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho has called for increased health information and surveillance for detection and monitoring of multidrug-resistant as well as extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) across the continent. Dr. Binagwaho made these remarks during the official opening ceremony a five-day workshop on Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR) which brings together experts from 17 English Speaking countries of Africa.

“We are very happy to host such a high level meeting in Kigali because it gives us an opportunity to better manage our health sectors. Tuberculosis knows no borders so when we only manage TB and not MDR, our efforts would be in vain,” she said.

“It is therefore up to all of us to play our part and strengthen surveillance, recording and reporting of these cases so that we ensure sustainability for control of this diseases,” the health Minister emphasized.

The World Health Organization Representative for Rwanda, Dr. Cissé Lamine Sarr also commended Rwanda’s progress on managing TB citing that the country’s MDR centre of excellence is key in promoting surveillance.

“Since 2006 cases of MDR had increased and in May 2009 WHO urged member states to develop a key network that will lower TB infections. Countries, including Rwanda have expressed commitment and this meeting is part of the process for us to improve regional capacity to identify, prevent and manage TB,” Sarr said.

The workshop aims at improving information on TB control in member states through strengthening national capacity in surveillance, registration, monitoring and evaluation of Drug Resistant TB cases.

During the five days, participants will discuss the current WHO recommendations for drug resistance surveillance, assess the status of drug resistance surveillance information in the region on a country-by country basis through exchange of experiences and develop plans for drug resistance surveillance, including use of surveys, strengthened continuous surveillance, and laboratory quality assurance.

Last year, WHO organized a similar conference for French Speaking countries across the continent.

This year’s conference, also organized by WHO and other partners has brought together participants from Kenya, Swaziland, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Angola, Uganda and Malawi among others.

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