Local TB fight bringing results – Guyana to join rest of the world in observing World TB day on Monday

Georgetown, GINA, Press Release

Tuberculosis commonly called TB, is the cause of death of about 1.7 million people each year, and since 1982, March 24, has been earmarked as the day to build public awareness about the global epidemic of TB and the efforts to eliminate this disease.
Guyana is already showing a good trajectory of declining the incidence of TB. In 2013, alone there was a reduction in the number of cases; from 92 per a 100,000 population, in 2012 to 78 per 100,000 population in 2013.

The successful implementation of the DOTS System in all the regions excepting Regions 8 and 9 has been ensuring case detection, standardised treatment, with supervision and patient support.

This year World TB day is being observed under the theme “Reach the three million, find treat and cure TB.”, and like previous years, Guyana will celebrate with a week of awareness activities, because whilst the TB programme in Guyana has been achieving its targets, critical is strategic health communication and partnership in combating challenges of HIV and TB Co-Infection and HIV and Diabetes co-infection.

TB is generally classified as being either latent or active. Latent TB is where the bacteria are inactive but present in the body and the patient has no symptoms and is not contagious. Active TB is where the bacteria are active and make the patient ill. Active TB is contagious. When an active TB infected person coughs, sneezes, shouts, or spits, bacteria can enter the air and come into contact with uninfected people who breathe the bacteria into their lungs thus becoming infected.

When a person becomes infected, the bacteria in the lungs multiply causing pneumonia; the patient experiences chest pain and has a persistent cough which often brings up blood.
According to Dr. Jeetendra Mohanlall, Programme Manager of the National Tuberculosis Programme, this year’s theme is in keeping with the global effort to combat the disease.

“Around the world globally each year we have nine million new cases of TB and approximately three million are not treated properly so we are missing one-third globally and even if persons are diagnosed they are not given appropriate treatment.”
Hence Guyana will be joining the global effort to reduce the number of TB cases by ensuring persons with TB are found, treated and cured.

Dr. Mohanlall said he will remain hopeful if the programme continues to work and partner with other stakeholders, that by the end of 2015, Guyana should see the new cases of TB dropping to approximately 60 per 100,000 population.

However to achieve this Dr. Mohanlall said a lot of work is required. “We are hoping to scale up a lot of effort in TB, HIV/AIDS activities and we are working with the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS) to scale up activities to prevent TB in persons living with HIV.”

It has been noted too that HIV/AIDS has been one of the main factor fuelling TB in Guyana.
However despite this, there has been a slight decrease in the co-infection rate within the last two years from 29 percent to 25 percent infection rate.

In addition, Dr. Mohanlall said other initiatives would be launched to build capacity in both the public and private sector with the aim of screening diabetic patients for TB. Over recent times seven percent of TB cases were found among diabetic patients.

Meanwhile the week of activities to observe World TB day will commence on Sunday, March 23 with a fitness walk, which will take off from the Ministry of Health Office, Brickdam to Base Camp Ayanganna. At that, location there were be two football matches.
On Monday the National Tuberculosis Programme along with NAPS will be hosting a seminar where the Global AIDS report will be discussed with various stakeholders.

The week will conclude with an appreciation ceremony, which will highlight the contributions of staff and partners of the National Tuberculosis Programme.

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