The country has been out of Tuberculosis (TB) medication for almost a month now and Government has had to contend with substitute TB drugs.
The drug that all TB patients around the country are currently receiving is the RHZE, which is a TB drug that patients are usually put on during the first two to three months of their treatment.
Out of stock is the RHE drug taken by patients who are in the second phase of the treatment stage.
Rifampicin (R), isoniazid (H) pyrazinamide (Z) ethambutol (E) is different from RHE because the latter does not contain pyrazinamide.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the duration of the initial phase is two months and drug treatment should be daily, with rifampicin (R), isoniazid (H), pyrazinamide (Z) and ethambutol (E). The continuation phase is 4 (RH)3 whose intake duration is four months, with rifampicin (R) and isoniazid (H), three times per week.
Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) communications officer, Ester Paulus, has confirmed the TB patients are currently getting an alternative medication.
“It is a similar drug to the usual one, which is currently out of stock. Usually when suppliers manufacture drugs, they do so for a certain period and then change to new ones. The healing process will continue normally and there will be no problems encountered by the patient,” says Paulus.
She further says when manufacturers can no longer manufacture a certain drug for a specified period of time, they manufacture an alternative and then inform their clients on the new drug, which is what’s happened in this case.
“Only one extra pill is missing. However, it is the same drug, only administered differently and patients should not worry about side effects because what matters is that they are receiving TB treatment,” asserts Paulus.
The Villager called different health centres across the country who confirmed all TB patients are currently receiving the same drugs for both phase one and two.