TB control requires coordinated response, says Nevis Medical Officer of Health

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (August 01, 2013) — Effective tuberculosis (TB) control requires a coordinated response involving providers in the public and private sectors, patients and the community.

This statement formed part of the remarks made by Medical Officer of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Dr. Judy Nisbett when the Ministry of Health, in partnership with the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Network (CHART) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), hosted a recent one-day workshop on Caribbean guidelines for the prevention, treatment, care and control of tuberculosis and tuberculosis-HIV.

The workshop, which drew participation from some 27 healthcare professionals from across the island, concentrated on key modules of the guidelines among them diagnosis, treatment, TB-HIV co-infection and the importance of adherence to treatment.

“Adherence to medication is of extreme importance in the treatment of tuberculosis and we will discuss the importance of DOTS (directly-observed treatments) in this short course which is of grave importance to the success of any TB programme.

“These revised guidelines developed for use in the Caribbean present best practices relating to preventing TB and diagnosing and treating persons infected with TB. They promote the use of internationally-recognised frameworks and standards of care and operational procedures such as the ‘Stop TB Strategy’ and the ‘International Standards for Tuberculosis Care,’” Dr. Nisbett said.

According to the Medical Officer of Health, there was an estimated one in three persons with the infection worldwide which could eventually lead to active disease. She said tuberculosis continued to be an important public health concern not only globally but regionally and internationally and this was intensified by the HIV epidemic and socio-economic factors.

In 1993, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared TB a global health emergency, given its increasing importance as a public health problem, Dr. Nisbett noted.
“TB is a contagious air-borne disease, thus transmissible from one person to another but it is also treatable and it is preventable. It is a debilitating disease that requires a long course of treatment to ensure cure, thus prevention, control and effective treatment are important if we are to control the spread of the disease.

“The failure to diagnose and adequately treat contributes to the persistence of TB. These can also lead to the development of multi-drug resistant TB and extensively drug-resistant TB, that is TB that is resistant to some of the most effective anti-TB drugs; 3.7 per cent of new cases and 20 per cent of previously treated cases are estimated to have multi-drug resistant TB. These public health dilemmas are critical to avoid,” she said.

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