Experts stress need to report TB cases to eradicate it

A volunteer signing the signature campaign poster during an awareness programme for eradication of tuberculosis in India

A volunteer signing the signature campaign poster during an awareness programme for eradication of tuberculosis in India

Only about 1.3 million of them were known to be receiving treatment under the government's TB control program. Most causes of TB are active TB.

I do not think there needs to be only one leader, but many.

The successful treatment of TB depends on early diagnosis, strict adherence to a long-drawn treatment process, sound nutritional support and post treatment follow-up.

We're not exactly winning. That illness is tuberculosis, the leading infectious killer in the world.

According to the Department of Health (DH)'s latest figures, the number of tuberculosis (TB) cases reported in Hong Kong dropped from 4 346 in 2016 to 4 306 (provisional figure) in 2017, the lowest level on record.

The NTBP says that the persons most susceptible to the disease are those with weak immune systems, and these include persons with HIV; those who had the infection in the last two years; persons who have diabetes or cancer, abuse alcohol or illegal drugs, or received incorrect treatment for a TB infection in the past; and the very old. Its prevalence is high among neglected communities-in places like refugee camps, slums, and prisons. "More worrisome is the fact that about one in three people with TB are never diagnosed and in Nigeria the proportion of missed cases is as high as 50 per cent".

In short, it's a global health emergency with outsized effects on the marginalized: an obvious, urgent focus for MSF.

The wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, who also doubles as Global TB Champion and Ambassador called on Nigerians to get tested for TB. As a result only 30 % of the patients complete the treatment. TB continues to be one of the biggest public health challenges in our country. This leads to drug resistance of the infection. But for the system to work, the first step is to ensure that the wide range of private clinics providing treatment report the TB cases regularly.

What else is being done to help DR-TB patients?

As for the diagnosis, there are really two main approaches. The aim is to find simpler, shorter (six-nine months), less toxic, all oral, and more effective treatments mainly based on new and repurposed drugs.

Noting that both can be addressed effectively with integrated programmes, UNAIDS outlined five important actions for partners, beginning with impelling political, religious and civil society leaders to champion the universal right to live free from TB and HIV.

TB was once a disease that affected people from all walks of life - including Frederic Chopin, Eleanor Roosevelt and George Orwell. But these [rapid tests] require constant power supply, air conditioning and dedicated lab facilities with trained staff. Further, numerous most effective programs provide care in the community (avoiding or with less time in hospitals), focus on building a system of care and support within people's communities, and treat TB patients as people to be supported rather than public health threats to be shunned.

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