Programme Manager for the Tuberculosis (TB) Programme Dr Jeetendra Mohanall says there has been no increase in tuberculosis cases this year, noting that to date there has been 56 reported cases, compared with 70 last year.
Tuberculosis can be categorised two ways: the first is tuberculosis disease which means that the patient exhibits sweating, fever and headaches and other symptoms and the second is latent TB which means that the virus has been detected but the person does not exhibit any signs of illness, Dr Mohanlall said.
According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release, Dr Mohanlall said statistics from the World Health Organisation indicate that one-third of the global population is infected with the latent TB virus and suffer no ill effects. He advises that TB is treatable, curable and preventable and this is emphasised as the ministry executes its decentralised TB campaign in regions Four and Ten and across the country.
According to GINA, through the Directly Observed Treatment Short course (DOTS) programme, the internationally recommended strategy for TB control that has been recognised as a highly efficient and cost-effective strategy, health workers visit and treat TB patients to ensure that they use the medicine necessary to fight the flu-like disease. Initial treatment lasts for six to eight months depending on the physical well-being of the patient and up to 24 months in cases of the virulent drug-resistant TB strain.
There is also a Nutritional Support Programme which caters for economically disadvantaged TB patients. The programme provides them with a nutritious meal daily as part of their treatment regimen. Last year, 21 of the 70 persons reported with TB benefited from this programme and 20 of this year’s 56 patients are receiving or have received support. “A robust Advocacy Communication and Social Mobilisation (ACSM) Programme is also being conducted to sensitise persons about the disease through the training of peer educators and other services,” the release said.
Dr Mohanall noted that TB is commonly associated with HIV infected patients but the disease can still be cured in these cases and medicine is available.
He called on regional officials to work closer with their ministry counterparts in the fight against the disease.
Earlier this month regional leaders had raised concerns and called for an investigation into the treatment and care of TB patients at Linden hospitals and for a study to examine the prevalence of the disease in Region 10.
Public Relations Officer of the Linden Hospital Complex Reycia Nedd had responded in a letter to this newspaper that there was an increase in the number of screenings being done at Linden, hence more cases were being detected and treated.