Over 4.3 million Ugandans are living with Hepatitis B which means a 4.3% prevalence of the disease in the country and a ratio of one infected in every 10 Ugandans.
According to Executive Director of Uganda National Health Laboratory Services, Dr Susan Nabadda, the country is set to open the first hepatitis B viral load laboratory Thursday in Butabika, Kampala.
The laboratory, the first in the public sector, is to cover over 3000 tests, and will help patients living with hepatitis B have a thorough check of the virus they have in the body before they are put on treatment
Dr Nabadda said the country had not invested in laboratory technology for these persons, with many opting for care in private facilities, many of which are quite expensive for ordinary Ugandan.
“It costs between Shs 250,000 to Shs700,000 to have a viral load test in private facilities, with this laboratory, it will be done at no cost in Butabika.”
With the laboratory open, patients will have to send their blood samples through an already existing sample transport network at all health facilities to be delivered in Butabika.
“Patients will visit any health facility across the country, fill in a viral load request form, samples will be drawn, and sent to the National Laboratory.”
The Hepatitis B Viral Load Laboratory has a capacity of 3000 tests a day with 50,000 samples booked in for this year.
The test will however not be open to persons diagnosed with hepatitis B and living with HIV as well as those living with Liver cirrhosis of liver cancer