Health News of 2014-03-23

Ghana to mark World TB Day

Ghana will on Monday, March 24, join the rest of the world to celebrate World Tuberculosis Day.

The Day will charge governments, civil society organizations, health-care providers and international partners to further take actions to reach the missed 3 million patients and also provide the opportunity for affected persons and the communities in which they live in.

The world theme this year would be “Reach the Three Million - A TB test, Treatment and Cure for All” but locally, Ghana would be marking the day under the theme “Reaching the “Missed” TB Cases” “The Untold Story of the Ghanaian TB Patient”.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Dr Frank Bonsu, National Programme Manager of the National Tuberculosis Control Programme (NTP), said TB was curable, but current efforts to find, treat and cure people with TB were not sufficient.

He explained that, out of the 9 million people worldwide, who get infected yearly, a third of them were "missed" by health systems. Many of these 3 million people lived in the world’s poorest, most vulnerable communities or are among marginalized populations, such as migrant workers, refugees and internally displaced persons, prisoners, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities and drug users.

Dr Bonsu noted that progress towards global targets for reductions in TB cases and deaths in recent years has been impressive; with TB mortality reducing to over 45 per cent worldwide since 1990.

New TB tools such as rapid diagnostics have also helped transform the response to the disease, whilst new life-saving drugs were being introduced. He said the Ghanaian TB patient faces several challenges and urged society to understand and appreciate the difficulties they go through to get cured.

Dr Bonsu said Ghana was on its way to achieving the MDG by halting and reversing the trend and incidence of TB by 2015, “if we continue to sustain our education to detect all TB cases”.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ghana is estimated to detect about 26, 000 cases in 2012, of which “we have detected 15, 207”, indicating that there are still “Missed” cases in the country that are not notified

The NTP Programme Manager said TB must be placed high on the national agenda of the country as well as getting all stakeholders to be committed to stopping the disease.

“We need to increase public awareness that TB is of significant public health importance, empower the affected community to control TB and its related disease, combat stigma and discrimination and mobilize resources to fight the disease,” he added.

World Tuberculosis Day is a worldwide event that aims to raise public awareness of tuberculosis and the efforts being made to prevent and treat the disease. This event is held on March 24 each year and is promoted by organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is to commemorate the day in 1882, when Dr Robert Koch detected the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. This was a first step towards diagnosing and curing tuberculosis. World Tuberculosis Day can be traced back to 1982, when the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease launched World TB Day on March 24 that year, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Dr Koch’s discovery.

Tuberculosis, or TB, is an infectious bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which most commonly affects the lungs. It is transmitted from person to person via droplets from the throat and lungs of people with the disease.

WHO estimates that the largest number of new TB cases in 2005 occurred in south-east Asia, which accounted for 34 per cent of incident cases globally. However, the estimated incidence rate in sub-Saharan Africa is nearly twice that of south-east Asia.