Health News Tue, 11 Mar 2008

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Scientists draw attention to looming danger of TB

Accra, March 11, GNA - Scientists have discovered that without treatment in five years, 50 per cent of infected Tuberculosis (TB) persons will die, whilst 25 per cent become chronic. It is also estimated that each day, 25,000 people develop active TB, an airborne disease, caused by a germ known as the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis.

This, according to Dr. Frank Bonsu, Programme Manager, National Tuberculosis Control Programme (NTCP), posed a serious threat to society both socially and economically.

He said with the trend of people receiving treatment, only 25 per cent would be cured in the five years.

Dr Frank Bonsu, who was addressing the monthly health talk organized by the Ghana Health Service in Accra on Tuesday, said TB could affect every part of the body, including the uterus of females as well as the testis of males, but pulmonary TB, which is the commonest, affects almost half of the population.

He said this form affects the lungs, making it virtually impossible for patients to embark on any economic venture, due to a breakdown of the immune system leading to perpetual weakness in the body and excessive coughing.

Dr. Bonsu said though curable, more people, especially those with HIV/AIDS, continue to die from TB than any other curable infectious disease in the world.

He said it was therefore important that the disease was tackled with all the seriousness, to ensure its total eradication. The talk is part of the World TB Day celebrations, which falls on March 18 to be celebrated in Wa on the theme; "I am Stopping TB". The message forms part of an empowerment programme to ensure a concerted effort by all and sundry in stopping the disease.

Dr Bonsu said there were two groups of the disease: the Latent TB infection where people could only be carriers of the germ without infecting other people and the TB disease which was infectious. He explained that a person with latent TB cannot infect but those with the TB disease could easily infect others through coughing, sneezing, shouting, singing and talking.

Dr Bonsu noted that the TB germ once inhaled by a tuberculin free person got infected and the bacillus would spread throughout the body within four to six weeks.

He mentioned the five forms of TB infections as Pulmonary TB, Extra Pulmonary TB, Multiple Drug Resistant TB, Extremely Drug Resistant TB and TB in HIV infected persons, adding, that the most common and dangerous form of TB was that of the lungs, which formed about 80 percent of all TB cases.

Dr Bonsu reiterated that TB control was no longer the burden of health professionals but everybody's responsibility. He also stressed on the importance of other interventions such as avoiding over crowding, ensuring good personal and public hygiene, early diagnosis and treatment, ensuring BCG vaccinations for new born babies and controlling environmental pollution.

He said with the TB control strategy known as the Directly Observed Treatment Strategy (DOTS), which had now reduced treatment from eight months to six months had made Ghana to record a remarkable improvements.

Dr Bonsu said increase in adherence to treatment and proper supervision of patients had also sharpened the cure rate. He said with the introduction of the new treatment regimen, it was expected that there would be better compliance to treatment to prevent Multi-Drug Resistant TB. "We must stop stigmatizing those affected with TB and encourage them to seek early treatment, take their drugs and advocate that TB is curable and treatment is free," Dr Bonsu added.

Source: GNA

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