Mar 24, 2009 News Comments Off on HEALTH MINISTER’S WORLD TB DAY MESSAGE 2009
Today is World TB Day. It is an opportune time for me to remind Guyanese of my warning more than five years ago that TB is likely to become our greatest Public Health Challenge. This public Health Challenge is not unique to Guyana but globally.
My warning more than five years ago still stands and unless Guyana and the world focus our attention on this ancient scourge, TB can overwhelm us.
The global agenda is to eliminate TB by 2050, but this would mean greater commitment to fight TB is necessary. I believe that there are too many people in Guyana and outside of Guyana that are not yet convinced that TB has the potential to become an even greater killer than it is today.
It is true that Guyana has made some progress but I am worried that progress is still too slow. In 2008, we diagnosed 622 new TB cases and placed them on treatment. This means that the incidence rate was 83 cases for every 100,000 Guyanese. In 2007, it was 93 cases per every 100,000 Guyanese.
This represents a reduction over the 2007 figures. This reduction occurred in spite of expanded capacity for case detection.
Today we are able to do case detection at TB centres located in New Amsterdam, Linden, Georgetown, Leonora, West Demerara Regional Hospital, Enmore, Bartica, Charity, Suddie, Mabaruma, Port Kaituma, Moruca, Fort Wellington, Madhia, Kato and Lethem.
Case findings are also done in the Georgetown, New Amsterdam, Timehri, Lusignan and Mazaruni Prisons. Persons with TB in our Prisons receive treatment through our Prison DOTS Program.
Also, encouraging is the fact that co-infection of TB patients with HIV dropped to 20% in 2008, compared to 28% in 2007.
In Guyana, TB patients are treated with the latest available medication. TB patients in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10 receive treatment through DOTS Program. In 2009, the DOTS Program will be expanded to Regions 8 & 9. More than 70% of TB patients receive treatment through the DOTS Program presently. We intend to provide 100% DOTS coverage by 2010.
All of our babies have access to BCG Vaccination. This vaccination provides some protection against TB and we advise parents to ensure their babies receive it.
MDR-TB is of major concern to Guyana and the world at large. MDR-TB refers to infection, which are resistant to known TB medicines. Guyana, like all other countries, has experienced MDR-TB. Unless we detect TB early and TB patients take their medicines regularly, MDR-TB will be a major threat.
TB can be tamed but only if we work together. The theme for World TB Day 2009 is “I am stopping TB”. This is a call to action for all of us. We are all at risk. By taking steps to stop TB, we are reducing our own risk; we are doing ourselves a favour.
I am stopping TB. You should also stop TB. We should stop TB together.
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