Health News of 2014-03-25

4,000 TB cases undetected in 2013

Four thousand tuberculosis (TB) cases were undetected in 2013, according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and its stakeholders.

The situation has been attributed to failure by patients to seek early and appropriate health care as a result of the misconceptions, myths and stigmatisation associated with the ailment.

Most of the patients of these undetected cases are said to seek help from spiritual institutions such as churches and “spiritualists”.

World TB Day

Launching the 2014 World TB Day in Accra yesterday, the Minister of Health, Ms Sherry Ayittey, said past studies had established that due to such misconceptions and myths, patients were concealing their status due to fear and shame, and this did not promote treatment behaviours.

The day was on the theme, “Reaching the missed TB cases”.

Ms Ayittey said the situation called for critical examination to ascertain why historically cases were missed leading to high TB morbidity.

TB treatment is free

The minister reiterated that apart from the disease being preventable and curable, treatment was absolutely free.

She, therefore, called on the public, particularly those who had been coughing for more than two weeks, to visit any health facility for screening to ensure that TB cases were not missed subsequently.

According to her, a recent survey identified HIV as a driving force responsible for the escalation in the TB epidemic but noted that not everybody with HIV had TB.

“Persons living with HIV and those with other medical risk factors for TB should offer themselves for a chest X-ray at least once every two years,” she added.

She said to reinforce efforts towards ensuring that Ghana’s target of zero tuberculosis (TB) death and infections by 2035 was achieved, the health ministry had initiated the development of a post-2015 national strategic plan for eradicating TB.

Madam Ayittey said since TB was highly infectious and airborne, institutions prone to overcrowding such as the prisons, educational and health facilities should be considered in the fight against the disease.

National TB programme

The manager of the national TB programme, Dr Frank Bonsu, said as part of winning the fight against TB, the programme, with the help of the Ghana Health Service, had acquired new technologies to help detect some of the cases that could have been missed.

This include the acquisition of a digital X-ray imagery technology, the establishment of a system for managing childhood TB and the development of an infrastructure to diagnose and manage multi-drug resistance.

He said though the disease had become burdensome, it could be halted and reversed with an all-hands-on-deck approach to the fight against TB.

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