Let’s continue the fight against tuberculosis

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Tuberculosis has been with us since prehistoric times, and accounts for thousands of years of war between humans and the TB bacilli, as well as for millions of deaths on the male side.
The stated goal of controlling tuberculosis among the public is the “deliberate reduction of incidents to a desired and defined level by specific interventions”.
The public, health-care professionals, policy planners and implementers are working on a united battlefront. Beginning with schools, public education on TB and its prevention must replace ignorance and misconceptions.
A lack of knowledge about transmitting TB and immunizations is blamed for causing the spread of the disease among the public. If people desist from spitting in public places, and if members of the public practise proper coughing and sneezing etiquettes, including covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, the rates of TB will also fall in line.
It is important for people to be able to spot early symptoms, report them to the nearest health department, and take prescribed medications.
Partnerships with the private sector are essential for early diagnosis of TB. Delays in diagnosis, for which we are notorious, is a fallout of the lack of efficient primary health care. Universal primary health care, a basic human right, and a diagnostic algorithm for early diagnosis, are essential for controlling tuberculosis.
It is praiseworthy to note that Myanmar has reduced overall TB incidences. But, we still need to analyze the results more clearly and correctly.
We started combined treatments for TB and HIV in 2015, and medical care reached all townships across the country in 2016.
Today, we need to speed up efforts for diagnosing HIV carriers if they are infected with TB, and for reaching 90 percent coverage of ART (antiretroviral therapy).
During the 3rd Drug Resistance Survey conducted in 2012-2013, Multi Drug Resistant TB – (MDRTB) was found in 5% of new TB patients, and in 27% of recurring TB patients, according to the Union Minister. He added that the treatment deficit for MDRTB was 43% in 2012, but was significantly reduced to 17% by 2017.
As part of the efforts to speed up the fight against infectious diseases, the Ministry of Health and Sports will assist with five digital mobile X-ray room vehicles.
At present, there are three BSL-3 TB labs in Yangon, Mandalay and Taunggyi that scan for MDRTB. There are also 86 Gene-Xpert module machines available for rapid diagnostic testing of MDRTB in use across the country.
Tuberculosis is a preventable disease. Diagnosing patients early, knowledge about TB infections, and curing patients remain the main strategies to prevent the spread of tuberculosis bacilli.
We need to develop recommendations to build partnerships between medical and non-medical service providers and civil society, in order to guarantee patient-centered TB care based on innovative technologies.

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