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Journalists Sensitised On Prevention, Control Of TB

Oct 1, 2009, 6:09 AM | Article By: Binta Fatty & Isatou Senghore

A two-day sensitisation workshop on the prevention and control of Tuberculosis for journalists ended yesterday at the Sea View Garden Hotel.

In her opening remarks, Madam Ramou Cole-Ceesay, the Assistant Director of Health Services, said the aim of the sensitisation workshop was to inform and empower journalists with the requisite knowledge and skills in supporting policy issues on Tuberculosis, its prevention and control in The Gambia.

According to Mrs. Ceesay, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa, comprising Health Ministers from 46 member states has on 26th August 2005 in Maputo declared Tuberculosis an emergency in the African region.

This, she added, was in response to an epidemic that has more than quadruple the annual number of new TB cases in most African countries since 1990. She noted that it is continuing to increase across the continent, killing more that half a million people every year.

"Globally TB is second to HIV/AIDs as a cause of illness and death of adults, accounting for nearly nine million cases of active disease and two million deaths every year," she said.

Madam Ceesay added that many national TB programmes are relying extensively on grants from external donor agencies, including the Global Fund to fight Against AIDs, TB and Malaria (GFATM). She disclosed that few African countries have included TB in their poverty alleviation strategies.

"However, additional financial resources alone will not solve the TB problem. Dedicated efforts must also be made to strengthen health system and response to the crisis of health workforce attrition in the region," she said.

She added that diagnosis and treatment for TB in The Gambia is provided free of charge to all patients, irrespective of nationality.

For his part, the National Programme Manager for TB, Mr. Adama Jallow, said that the sensitisation workshop is part of a series of events organised by the NLTP for health journalists on Tuberculosis prevention and control.

According to Mr. Jallow, in the recent years the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare had made significant progress in the control of Tuberculosis in The Gambia, particularly, with respect to DOT's expansion, diagnosis and treatment.

"According to our recent routine TB data, NLTP has achieved the national global target of detecting at least 70% of the estimated TB cases in The Gambia. Our case detection rate has risen from 60% in 2006 to 78% in 2008," Mr. Jallow added.

He said within the context of collaboration and partnership with all stakeholders, NLTP will continue to conduct sensitisation workshops for health journalists, as according to him, it is one of the ways of ensuring the active participation of all in the noble crusade to fight against TB.