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Wednesday 5 August, 2020

NCHRA: We have drugs to fight TB

NCRHA CEO Davlin Thomas

NCRHA CEO Davlin Thomas

The CEO of the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA), Davlin Thomas, is advising members of the public that there is no shortage of drugs to fight tuberculosis (TB). 

This, after Trinidad and Tobago Newsday reported on Monday that two individuals who were infected by the disease, have not received medication. The article said the patients were worried as a result. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. It is caused by the bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affects the lungs and spreads through the air when a person with TB of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or talks. The WHO notes, however, that the illness is curable and preventable.

In a statement hours after the report, the NCRHA CEO refuted the patients claims. He said while one drug is unavailable, there are a myriad of substitutes. 

"The NCRHA has 114,200 doses of the TB drug Isoniazid, 3,000 doses of Ethambutol and 3,300 doses of Pyrazinamide. While there is a global issue with the drug Rifampin (Rifampicin), the NCRHA is utilizing Rifabutin which is an alternative drug currently supplied by the Ministry of Health, and the [Chief Medical Officer] CMO has assured that the supply will be replenished when that becomes necessary."

Thomas also said that the NCRHA is piloting a new digital drug management system which will result in even greater efficiency.

"SALMI, a pharmaceutical and stock logistics system improves access to drugs and reduces stock losses due to expired drugs. This new system is operational at the St Joseph Enhanced Health Center and the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital and is scheduled for further rolled out at the Caura Hospital and the Arima Health Facility shortly."

He stated that this fully integrated system tracks stock levels, provides dispensary oversight and more effective redistribution of drugs for improved awareness of drug availability.

Meanwhile, Thomas turned his attention to the flu sceason noting that nearly 21,454 flu vaccines were administered by the NCRHA last year for the 2019 flu season with the figure to be surpassed in 2020.

In addition, the NCRHA CEO said the health authority has screened more than 18,000 persons for noncommunicable diseases through its Walk The Talk Initiative in partnership with churches, mosques and temples within the region.

This, while more than 1,500 women have benefitted from the NCRHA's Pap Smear Initiative; 1,500 men have been screened at its Men’s Day Initiative and 1,200 children for its Back to School Initiative for 2019.

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