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Combating TB

Mar 26, 2012, 1:00 PM

Tuberculosis ,otherwise known as TB, is a public health challenge. Thus fighting it requires a collective effort.

Despite it is curable, TB continues to kill many people in our part of the world, particularly in the developing countries, including The Gambia.

Going by the latest statistics from health bodies, there is no doubt that tuberculosis is a major cause for concern.

We were made to understand that  early and proper treatment is essential in handling TB cases.

The suffering experienced by TB patients and some deaths from TB could be prevented, if only early diagnosis and proper treatments are made.

We understand that the symptoms of active TB of the lung are coughing, sometimes with sputum or blood, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.

Health experts stressed that tuberculosis is treatable with a six-month course of antibiotics.

It has been reported that some 200 children die from TB every day.

Yet it costs very minimal efforts and resources to treat the disease and prevent deaths.

In The Gambia, significant progress has been made in TB treatment and care, with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and partners providing exlusive treatments for TB patients across the country.

In fact, the Gambia government has taken giant steps to eradicate TB in the country.

There is what is called the enabling package, which covers incentives such as providing transport refund to patients who travel to come to the clinic.

Indeed, it is the norm in Gambian health facilities that those who come in regularly to receive TB medicines are also given nutritious food at the hospital to eat before ingesting the drugs, which are also given to them free of charge.

As elsewhere, the directly observable treatment system, DOTS, which is the treatment recommended by WHO for TB, is offered to patients free of charge in the many health facilities across the country.

Nontheless, we need to increase the TB case detection rate, and achieve a treatment success rate of at least 85%.

When access to TB services is enhanced, it can lead to increased case detection and improved favourable treatment outcomes.