Tue | May 26, 2020

Curing the world of tuberculosis - Jamaica still falling short

Published:Wednesday | December 31, 1969 | 7:00 PM

Tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a global problem, as efforts to find, treat and cure the disease remain insufficient. Although curable, the global burden of the disease is enormous and locally it is no different.

According to recent data, Jamaica detected and treated 190 TB cases in the last two years (2012-2013). This amounted to a case detection rate of 52 per cent annually, which is far below the 70 per cent minimum prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In order for the country to meet the international TB prevention and control targets, specialists recommend increased case-detection efforts, prompt and complete treatment along with sustained sensitisation, education, advocacy and clinical efforts.

This year, as the world commemorates World TB Day under the theme 'Reaching the 3 million - A TB Test, Treatment and Cure for All', the health ministry locally will be partnering with The National Chest Hospital to host a week of activities beginning today through to Saturday.

FOCUS ON GLOBAL ISSUES

Each day of activities will seek to focus attention on global TB issues and to mobilise support for the ongoing campaign against the disease.

According to officials from the health ministry, although Jamaica's TB burden remains low, the country is lagging behind in achieving the TB Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

This means that renewed and sustained efforts are required to make that final push towards 2015.

INCREASE AWARENESS

The goal is to increase awareness of the existing status of tuberculosis prevention and control in Jamaica, highlighting major achievements with a view to mobilising support for the strengthening of the national TB programme.

The Tuberculosis National Strategic Plan 2012-2016 was also distributed to the TB team members islandwide.

In 2012, there were an estimated 8.6 million incident cases of TB worldwide, of which 1.3 million people died.

The global TB programme has made major progress towards achieving the global targets for reductions in the burden of the disease.

The 2015 MDG target of halting and reversing TB incidence has been achieved globally, with TB mortality rate falling by 45 per cent since 1990.

Currently, according to WHO, of the nine million people who get sick with TB each year, a third of them are 'missed' by public-health systems, hence, the reason for this year's theme, aimed at reaching "the missed three million".

WHO's data shows that many of these three million people live in the world's poorest, most vulnerable communities and include groups such as migrants, miners, drug users and sex workers.

Part of the efforts to eradicate the disease is to invest in basic research and development of tools, such as diagnostics, drugs and vaccines, in order to reach people faster, treat them more quickly and ultimately prevent them from becoming ill with TB.