A medical laboratory scientist, Mr Solomon Chollom, has attributed rising cases of drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) to non-adherence to prescribed drugs by patients.
Chollom told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Jos, that the treatment of tuberculosis takes a fairly long time.
According to him, TB patients are in the habit of defaulting in the prescribed regime or discontinuing drug intake when they feel better.
He said that when this happens, the tubercle bacilli, the TB causing organism in secluded parts of the body, survive the toxicity of the drug and develop resistance.
The scientist said that when the organisms survive, they no longer respond to that first line therapy and eventually become more infectious than they were.
“Some tuberculosis patients are not adequately informed on the need to adhere to their drug regiment.
“They are not fully informed of the consequence of non-adherence.
“This is because the treatment takes up to six months to run its cause.
“Within this period, the patient may feel better and abandon the treatment mid-way.
“The default or abandonment of treatment encourages the onset of resistance and makes subsequent treatment more tasking,” Chollom said.
He cited lack of diagnostic facilities as other factors responsible for drug resistance in TB.
According to him, the Genexpert technology, the diagnostic tool used to detect multidrug resistant tubercle bacilli, is not readily available in government health facilities.
“The few available are in NGO-supported health centres.’’
The laboratory scientist explained that, without proper laboratory diagnosis to ascertain level of drug resistance, treatment options would not be readily established.
He pointed out that many health facilities still practice the orthodox Acid Fast Bacilli, in terms of diagnosing tuberculosis and the technique does not reveal the resistance.
Chollom called on handlers of health facilities to implement the Direct Observation Treatments (DOTs) option.
“DOTs is a treatment policy that deals with issues of default.
“In this case, the patient visits the hospital and takes the drug in the presence of the health worker, who observes directly the process.
“This eliminates default, promotes adherence and enhances success of treatment.’’ (NAN)