Each year, we recognize World TB Day on March 24, often with a variety of activities leading up to the official day. This annual event commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB).
World TB Day provides the opportunity to raise awareness about TB-related problems and solutions and to support worldwide TB-control efforts. While great strides have been made to control and cure TB, people still get sick and die from this disease in our country. Much more needs to be done to eliminate this disease. The availability of GeneXpert machines, which speed up the diagnosis of TB and Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB, has resulted in quicker detection of MDR TB.
We have been able to save the lives of people whose conditions would have worsened, and at worst infected others while awaiting diagnosis,” says the department of health.
The department says that regardless of the challenge faced by the country due to migration, the department has a responsibility to ensure that patients, who migrated from neighbouring countries while on TB treatment, are followed up on so that they don’t default. The department urges the families of patients, who are on TB treatment, to provide support and encourage them to adhere to treatment.
We must continue to educate our people on the signs and symptoms of TB and we must emphasize the importance of completing TB treatment and make patients aware of the consequences of failure to do so. Drugs alone will not win the war we are faced with. We have to reconsider the tactics that we have employed in the past in the fight against TB.
We need to strengthen community awareness because there is evidence that our people are not presenting themselves to be tested for TB earlier when they begin to show symptoms. Identification of areas where there are high rates of infection in any sub-district should raise alarm bells to district clinical specialist teams,” says the department.
Since 1994, government has prioritised reducing the burden of TB by also addressing other social determinants which contribute to its burden.
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