The antibiotic drug Ethionamide has been discontinued as a treatment option for tuberculosis (TB) due to numerous complaints from men experiencing manhood problems. Ethionamide, a second-line therapy for TB, was commonly used in combination with other drugs for the treatment of Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB.
However, the reported side effects have led health experts to remove it from prescription options. Dr. Susan Adakun, head of the TB Unit at Mulago National Referral Hospital, explained that while ethionamide is effective in treating TB, many men were abandoning care due to the adverse effects, which ultimately impacted their treatment outcomes.
After monitoring patients and reviewing treatment data, the decision was made to discontinue the medication last year.
Adding to the challenge, some patients resorted to using herbal medicines alongside TB treatment to alleviate side effects, posing potential dangers.
Dr. Mary Nabukenya Mudiope, another TB expert, highlighted concerns about the unknown contents of herbal concoctions, as some herbalists admitted to adding TB drugs to their preparations.
Ministry of Health data revealed that men are disproportionately affected by both MDR TB and drug-sensitive TB, with three out of every four patients testing positive for the disease being male. Dr. Adakun attributed this gender disparity to social-cultural factors, as men tend to spend more time outdoors and delay seeking care until their condition worsens, inadvertently spreading the disease further.
Kenneth Mwehonge, the Executive Director of the NGO HEPS Uganda, partly attributed this problem to the lack of awareness and limited access to services. He urged the government to implement innovative strategies that bring TB services closer to communities and ensure a constant flow of information and resources.
In response, counseling services have been established at TB treatment centers to educate patients about potential side effects and how to manage them effectively, according to Dr. Mudiope. Ongoing studies are also being conducted to determine if there are specific biomarkers in men that make them more susceptible to TB infection.