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Mozambique: Half of Tuberculosis Cases Go Undiagnosed

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Garrido said it costs the government ten US dollars to cure a new case of tuberculosis - but 300 dollars to treat a case of multi-resistant TB. "Hence the importance of the correct treatment of all cases diagnosed, to prevent them from becoming cases of multi-resistant TB", he stressed.

"We are aware that we face enormous challenges", said the Minister, "such as increasing the number and quality of staff at all levels, and decentralising and expanding the laboratory network, while guaranteeing its quality".

Garrido announced that this year two new laboratories will open, one in the central city of Beira, and the second in Nampula, in the north of the country. They would be able to grow bacterial cultures, and improve capacity to diagnose cases of tuberculosis with negative baciloscopy, extrapulmonar tuberculosis and multi-resistant TB.

He also stressed the need ensure respect for patients, and combat the stigma that TB still carries. Critical to success would be improve the management of anti-TB drugs, so as to ensure that no patient is forced to abandon treatment because the drugs run out.

Garrido attacked the passive attitude of certain local health officials who took no action when drugs against TB were stolen from health units, and ended up on sale in informal markets.

"As from now our attitude must change", he stressed, "so that the Tuberculosis Control Programme can advance and we can have better results".

Garrido welcomed the cooperation from foreign partners in the fight against TB - but stressed that it is the government, and not well-intentioned outsiders, that determines the country's health policies.

"There are partners who contact the Health Ministry, not to help implement the Ministry's programme, but to try and implement a programme foreign to Mozambique, drawn up we don't know where or by whom", he said, "There was even a case where the partner wanted to give instructions t
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