Jul 3, 2008, 9:19 AM
Going by the latest statistics from health bodies, there is no doubt that Tuberculosis is a major cause for concern.
According to World Health Organisation's estimates, over 2 million people die annually as a result of Tuberculosis globally and, in Africa, the disease was declared a regional health problem in 2001.
In The Gambia, the estimated annual TB incidence is 258 per 100,000 of the population.
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 the TB medicine 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.
As a transmissible disease, TB is characterised as a source of major public concern, partly due to persistent stigmatization and discrimination.
According to health experts, the prevention and control of such a deadly disease requires adequate funds to ensure a more effective campaign, especially to eradicate the stigma and discrimination part of it.
Among the actions to be taken to remedy the situation include the fact that more sensitization should be done, especially at the community level, and to facilitate support and care from family members for TB patients.
Patients should also disclose their TB status to their family members or friends, so that they can take them to a nearest health centre for immediate treatment.
People should not have this belief that anybody who is infected with Tuberculosis will die.
Meanwhile, we would like to share with our readers the good news announced recently that UK scientists have devised a “one-hour test for TB”.
According to the news, scientists in the UK say they have devised a new ultra-sensitive test, which can diagnose the presence of TB bacterium in one hour.
The test has been developed by the Health Protective Agency, and its developers claim the test can spot all strains of the disease and could reduce both the incidence and consequences of the disease worldwide.
"Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis."