Public-private partnership to pump up TB fight

The Ministry of Health is embarking on new interventions to deal with tuberculosis including a public-private sector partnership.

According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) release, Coordinator of the TB programme Dr Jeetendra Mohanlall said from 2007 to 2008 the ministry achieved about 65-70% coverage through the DOTS programme. Last year 600 new cases were recorded, a reduction from the 701 new cases found in 2007. Dr Mohanlall said the ministry is embarking on several new interventions since it still encounters some challenges which could hinder its goal of meeting 90% coverage by 2011. One of these initiatives is a public-private partnership between the Ministry of Health and the St Joseph Mercy and Davis Memorial hospitals.

Dr Mohanlall said too this year the DOTS programme is planning to host community outreaches to involve families and community members who care for persons with TB. He said too the ministry received several recommendations from the Pan American Health Organisation to increase awareness and it will be working with faith-based organisations to do so.

Meanwhile, Dr Mohanlall said the key to beating TB is following the directions on medications. He said patients sometimes fail to take the medication which hampers their ability to fight the infection. The doctor also said that homeless persons are among some disadvantaged groups and currently an awareness and support programme is being hosted
for needy persons to be given a hot
meal or hamper.

GINA said too the DOTS (Directly Observed Short Course Therapy) programme has been expanded to the Georgetown, Mazaruni, Berbice and Timehri prisons and the New Opportunity Corps. An active information, education and communication campaign for TB has also been established to spread awareness about TB and HIV/AIDS in communities. Counselling is an active part of the programme and is provided at clinics countrywide. Clinics also provide screening for households.

Meanwhile, the Chest Clinic at the Genito Urinary Medicine Clinic at the Georgetown Hospital was refurbished in June 2006 with support from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Canadian International Development Agency. These units monitor, evaluate and provide laboratory quality control testing and is staffed with a coordinator for the DOTS programme. Dr Mohanlall noted that case detection laboratories offering microscopy have also increased considerably region wide.

According to GINA the DOTS programme was adopted from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the 1970s following a global emergency declaration for TB. WHO had recommended that DOTS be implemented as part of the health plan for developing countries.

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