An innovative electronic tele-radiography project aimed at aiding quick, ultimate diagnosis of Tuberculosis (TB) cases to enhance comprehensive treatment and elimination of the deadly infectious disease, has taken off in the country.
Dr Alexander Segbefia, Minister of Health, launching the project at a two-day stakeholder workshop in Kumasi said the 12 year long Public-Private-Partnership project is named “Accelerating Tuberculosis Case Detection in Ghana”. It is part of deliberate steps by the Government of Ghana to reduce the current traumatic TB burden of 290 per 100,000 of the population to levels below 50 per every 100,000 people in Ghana.
He said under the novelty project, being implemented in Ghana, 50 hospitals across the country have been selected for the installation of the state-of-art tele-x-ray equipment, to provide increased access to mandatory free diagnostic screening to a target of over 75,000 suspected TB sufferers who are missed annually, partly due to misdiagnosis. It is receiving co-financing from the Government of Ghana and the Netherlands Government in a 65-35 per cent cost- sharing arrangement respectively. Ghana Government’s financing component, he said, came from a 14 million Euro loan facility secured from ABN/AMRO Bank which would be payable within the project period. Per the arrangement, the people of Ghana are represented by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health.
Dr. Segbefia said the pro-poor intervention does not only bring TB diagnostic services to district hospitals but would also enable tele-medicine and specialists radiologist services reach such hospitals where it would have taken years to reach. The workshop brought together about 182 health stakeholders, including Regional, District/Municipal health directors, radiographers, technicians and physicians among others to brainstorm to ensure the successful implementation of the project.
Dr. Frank Bonsu, Programme Manager of the National Tuberculosis Control Programme said the current TB/ HIV disease burden compounded by the development of multi-drug resistant TB strains, making the situation critical for increased capacity for detection, to bring down the disease. He said his outfit as part of the Project, has set up a triage table at the Out-Patient- Departments (OPD) of all beneficiary hospitals, where patients reporting for other clinical cases would also be screened for TB. Dr. Maurits Verhagen of the Universal Delft, a Dutch e-health solutions company, facilitators of the tele-radiography machine said human resource and not just the x-ray equipment, is an important link in the chain of diagnostic procedures to arrive at a conclusive diagnosis to pave way for treatment and cure of TB.
The X-ray device come with a specialized software Computer Aided Diagnostic for TB (CAD4TB) which screens all TB lesions to help make a quicker diagnosis at facilities where there is no radiologist. Dr Nicholas Adjabu of the National TB control Programme said the leaded X-ray machines to ensure radiation security, would be installed at the selected hospitals by November this year and everything was in place to train technicians and other workers to man the equipment. He mentioned these hospitals as the Kuntenase, Ejisu, Ejura in the Ashanti Region, Koforidua, Kade, in the Eastern Region, Pantang, Amasaman in the Greater Accra Region, as well as Twifo-Praso, Abura-Dunkwa and Kasoa in the Central Region.