World Tuberculosis Day raises awareness about deadliest infectious disease

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The Ministry of Health describes the tuberculosis reality in Belize as an "epidemic".

Ranking ninth globally, tuberculosis (TB) still remains a leading infectious killer caused by the bacteria mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The Ministry of Health has received support for the initiatives of its National Tuberculosis Program (NTBP) for 2016-2018 from the Global Fund. Efforts that address social inequities coupled with improved diagnosis and treatment of active TB disease and LTBI will level the playing field and help eliminate TB in all of Canada. In 2015, close to five lakh people died of TB in India and every year, an estimated 1.3 lakh people are affected by drug-resistant TB (TB India Report 2017). It needs mechanism to support all patients to adhere to the treatment regime and follow up after treatment, to prevent re-infection or post treatment disease. TB is preventable, treatable and in most cases curable.

The disease is mostly seen in the adults and is found mostly in the developing countries. Healthcare workers and caretakers are also at higher risk of contracting tuberculosis. To add to the complexity of the issue, TB can infect any part of the body such lungs, spine, gastro-intestinal tract, eyes, genitals etc.

The common symptoms of TB are: a cough for three weeks or longer; weight loss; loss of appetite; high temperature or fever; night sweats; extreme tiredness or lack of energy.

The notification rate of TB is now around 60 cases per 100 000 people in the population, representing a sharp 90 per cent reduction as compared with the figures in the 1950s and 1960s.

Section 269 says a negligent act likely to spread infection of a risky disease will be punished with imprisonment of up to six months, or fine, or both. This newspaper finds it odd that kissing a person who has the disease is perfectly safe, while there is a risk in being around a sick person who laughs or sings.

An integrated and comprehensive approach is urgently needed to meet the challenges posed by TB in terms of prevention, treatment and care and the allocation of adequate funding to research in the European Union and neighboring countries. Medical experts do however agree that a person's immune system is strong enough to fight TB if the bacteria is in latent state. TB bacterium is spread through the air i.e when people infected with TB, cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air which ultimately infects other people in the surrounding areas.

Dr. Al Maslamani said the key to fighting the spread of TB is to remove the stigma attached to the disease through providing education and accurate information about how it can be acquired.

"I'm stepping forward for a TB-free world", Mr. Tedros said, "please join me".

Patients themselves have to take ownership in the way they are treated and make themselves heard. The WHO says that infected persons have a 10% chance of becoming sick with the disease in their lifetime. Tobacco smoking, harmful use of alcohol and other substance abuse, air pollution, exposure to silica dust, living with HIV/AIDS, diabetes and malnutrition all increase the risk of TB.

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