Continuing the fight against tuberculosis

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  • South East Asia is the region most affected by tuberculosis in the world, with serious social, political, and economic repercussions from the high incidence of the life-threatening disease.
    According to the Global TB report (2018), Myanmar is among the 30 countries most affected by TB. As per the report, 358 of every 100,000 people in Myanmar are infected with TB, and about 9.3 per cent of new TB patients are also HIV carriers, while about 5 per cent have drug-resistant TB.
    We cannot make efforts to fight and prevent TB a success without the participation of the people and civil society organizations.
    Today, mobile teams are reaching far-flung areas and providing TB treatment to patients within one or two days of the virus being identified. It has been found that the number of TB infections are on the rise.
    South East Asia accounted for 44 per cent of the 10 million TB cases in 2017. The region accounts for 50 per cent of the 1.27 million TB deaths annually. After including TB-HIV mortality, the number of deaths rises to about 1.6 million a year.
    Significantly, TB remains the region’s leading cause of death and loss of productive years in the crucial 15-49 age group, thereby affecting the prospects of individuals, families, communities, and countries. South East Asia is also home to a growing number of drug-resistant cases of the disease, threatening the control of TB generally, as well as health security specifically.
    The increase in the number of drug-resistant TB cases is also posing a problem for the healthcare sector in Myanmar.
    The Ministry of Health and Sports has adopted a five-year national strategy for fighting TB, as part of efforts towards the World Health Organization’s ‘End TB Strategy’, which seeks to eliminate TB by 2035.
    A total of 30 local and foreign partner organizations, with about 2,400 private general practitioners, are participating in the drive.
    As statistics on TB cases play an important role in the fight against the disease, we would like to urge private hospitals, clinics, and laboratories to send information about TB cases to the ministry, under the Mandatory TB Case Notification, announced on 18 September 2018.
    Tuberculosis is curable. But, to contain the spread of infection and reduce mortality rate, it is important for TB patients to take drugs and follow the treatment guidelines.
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