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National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme (NTLP) - Information Note

As Tanzania comes together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to ensure that essential services and operations for dealing with other infectious diseases are maintained. With this perspective, TB case finding initiatives, treatment and care has to continue. COVID-19 has presented challenges in control of TB as the diseases both affect lungs and symptoms are similar. This has made difficulties, worries and panic clinical staffs when confronted with patients to clinical staff to differentiate the signs of COVID-19 from that of TB

As Tanzania comes together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to ensure that essential services and operations for dealing with other infectious diseases are maintained. With this perspective, TB case finding initiatives, treatment and care has to continue.
COVID-19 has presented challenges in control of TB as the diseases both affect lungs and symptoms are similar. This has made difficulties, worries and panic clinical staffs when confronted with patients to clinical staff to differentiate the signs of COVID-19 from that of TB

Comparison of TB and COVID-19 

Key  components       Tuberculosis                 COVID-19
 How it is spread  Airborne  Spread through droplets
 How it is diagnosed  Sputum tests for those with cough. Other samples depending on symptoms  Nasal swabs and/or sputum tests
 Pathogen  Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex  Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)  
 Infectiousness  Range from less than 1 to up to 4 people infected per one person with TB  Currently average of 2.2 people infected per one person with COVID-19
 Prevention  Prevention measures include TB preventive therapy for those with known contacts with TB and good respiratory hygiene measures  Social distancing, good respiratory hygiene measures and hand washing with soap for at least 20 seconds
 Treatment  Antibiotics. Drug-sensitive TB 4 antibiotics for 6 months. Drug resistant TB treatment, antibiotics for 9-24months  Supportive treatments currently. Many drug trials under way.
 Vaccine  BCG has some protective effects for severe TB infection particularly for children  No

 

What should be done?

1.  Health Care Workers (HCWs) and Health Care Volunteers (HCVs) has to be educated on how to differentiate Signs of TB from that of COVID-19. This should include laboratory personnel/Staff

2. To extend working hours and divide the patients in groups when coming for drug refill and consultations so as to avoid overcrowding.

3. Patients with good TB drugs adherence history can be given drugs for more than two weeks, for those in intensive phase and those in continuation phase can be given drugs for one month.

4. Health Care Workers (HCWs) and Health Care Volunteers (HCVs) has to be provided with PPE such as masks so that to be prevented from being infected or infecting others.

5. Follow-up of clients who are using self screening mobile phone app TAMBUA TB should be made for further investigation and treatment.