Accra (20 April 2021) – A short-course tuberculosis (TB) preventive therapy (TPT) combining two drugs, rifapentine and isoniazid, was launched for the first time today in Ghana. The new fixed-dose combination (FDC) of “3HP” prevents people infected with TB from developing active TB disease and reduces the number of pills that people have to take every week from nine to three.
The official launch, which took take place at St. Martin de Porres Hospital, Agormanya in the Eastern Region of Ghana, was attended by officials from the National AIDS Control Programme and the National Tuberculosis Programme, the Regional Director of Health Services, traditional leaders, civil society organisations and management and staff of the facility.
“Prevention of active TB disease by treatment of LTBI is a critical control objective of the NACP & NTP to reduce the incidence of TB in Ghana. The programs will continue to collaborate with Aurum Institute through the IMPAACT4TB project as they provide 3HP-FDC to 9000 eligible persons, technical capacity to service providers and improve on TPT reporting in 12 facilities in 4 regions of Ghana and will work towards the nationwide scale-up 3HP” said Dr. Stephen Ayisi-Addo, the Programme Manager of NACP.
“The availability of 3HP in Ghana through the IMPAACT4TB project funded by Unitaid and implemented by NACP & NTP with support from the Aurum Institute is great news in the response to TB infection control. This convenient short course TPT compliments the efforts of government and should result in a greater compliance to treatment” said Dr. Kwame Essah, the Country Director of Aurum Institute Ghana.
In Ghana, 44,000 people fell ill with TB in 2019 alone, which resulted in over 15,000 deaths, including 4,800 deaths among people living with HIV. About one-quarter of the world’s population is infected with TB bacteria and most of them do not have active disease and are not contagious—this is known as TB infection, or ‘latent TB’. If left untreated, TB infection can develop into active TB disease, the form of TB that makes people sick and is capable of being transmitted from one person to another.
TPT regimens like 3HP are one of the most powerful ways to prevent TB by lower the risk of progression in people at risk, including people living with HIV. In 2019, only 4.1% of HIV-positive people in Ghana were enrolled on preventive therapy.
“Tuberculosis prevention therapy is key to Ending the TB Pandemic by 2020_ Dr Yaw Adusi-Poku, Programme Manager, NTP-Ghana.”
Using the FDC, a complete course of treatment for eligible adults — one dose taken every week for 12 weeks — is contained in one box. By reducing the pill burden, the FDC will ensure that TPT can be provided conveniently for programmes, providers and individuals at risk for TB.
The launch in Ghana follows a recent global procurement agreement with Macleods made possible by the IMPAACT4TB project, funded by Unitaid and led by the Aurum Institute. Ghana, alongside Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe is part of the initial countries starting to provide the FDC in the first quarter of 2021, while seven others will introduce it by the end of the year. Other countries are expected to receive supplies with the support of PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The partnership with Macleods will bolster efforts to treat TB infection by broadening access to shorter and easier to use preventive therapies. As part of a wider access strategy to facilitate the introduction of generic rifapentine-based formulations in low- and middle-income countries, it will contribute to moving towards the United Nations High-level Meeting (HLM) target to provide TPT to at least 30 million people by 2022—a target that was only partly (20%) met by 2019.
“Ghana, alongside other countries introducing the fixed-dose combination this year, deserves to be congratulated for their commitment to preventing TB, which ultimately is the only way we will end TB,” said Prof. Gavin Churchyard, founder and CEO of the Aurum Institute. “With the roll-out of this new FDC in at least 12 high TB burden countries this year, I’m feeling a renewed sense of optimism that we can get back on track to meet our ambitious global TB prevention goals.”
With this more convenient product in hand that is easier to dispense, take and adhere to, The Aurum Institute Ghana is now supporting the National Tuberculosis Programme and National AIDS Control Programme to start the roll out the FDC in two sentinel sites.
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