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‘Gov’t made significant progress in fight against TB’

Mar 26, 2015, 9:52 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Mackie Taal, has said as a result of the firm commitment by President Yahya Jammeh and his government, the Health ministry has over the years made significant progress in the fight against TB in The Gambia.

PS Taal was speaking at a press briefing yesterday to mark World TB Day organised by NLTP at its office in Kanifing.

He said The Gambia joined the rest of the world in commemorating World TB Day on the theme: “Reach, treat and cure everyone.”

According to PS Taal, World TB Day, which is annually commemorated on March 24, provides an opportunity for people around the world to raise public awareness about tuberculosis, and global efforts being made to control and eliminate the disease as a public health problem.

“It is a day set aside to recognize the collaborative efforts of all countries in the fight against tuberculosis,” he said, adding that this year’s slogan and theme is a continuation of the 2014 theme, which was: “Reach, treat and cure everyone.”

The theme seeks global efforts to find, treat and cure all people with TB and accelerate progress towards the bold goal of ending TB by 2035.

According to PS Taal, there had been major progress toward 2015 targets established within the MDG framework, and the Gambian leader recognised health as a central and long-term driver of economic growth.

People have to be healthy to be able to participate effectively in the development process, he said.

“As a result of this firm commitment by the President, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has over the years made significant progress in the fight against TB in The Gambia,” he went on.

He further said the overall national prevalence of all forms of TB in The Gambia is 128/100,000 of the population, which is 3.8 times lower than the 490/100,000 estimate in the 2013 global TB report.

He added that the event would be celebrated at the regional level, coordinated by each of the regional health teams.

He thanked all health care workers, voluntary organizations, individuals, the private sector and donor partners for their participation in the fight against TB in The Gambia.

He was confident that with this result-oriented collaborative partnership between the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare - the WHO, MRC, and the Global Fund - to fight TB/HIV AIDS/Malaria, they would continue to make significant progress in their efforts to control TB.

Isatou Jallow, principal scientist at the National Public Health Laboratory, spoke on the role of the laboratory in supporting an effective national tuberculosis control programme.

“Tuberculosis is one of the world’s top health challenges with nine million new TB cases and death of nearly 1.5 million people each year,” she said.

“In The Gambia, the burden of TB is significantly reducing, as a recent TB prevalence survey indicated that the prevalence of TB is three times (126/100,000) less than the WHO estimated prevalence.”

She highlighted some of their major challenges relating to human resources and laboratory safety, and spoke about culture methods and drug sensitivity testing DST.

She added that safety is a continuing concern for laboratory staff at all levels, who work with specimens and cultures.