Friday, April 6, 2012
Laos - Health Ministry, WHO work to combat TB in Laos
The Ministry of Health of Laos and the World Health Organisation (WHO) marked World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on April 4 at the National University of Laos to support the Global Fund and Lao students' “Stop TB in My Lifetime” campaign.
The campaign is intended to build public awareness about the global tuberculosis epidemic with the aim of eliminating the disease through the sharing of information and experiences between healthcare workers and experts.
March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day and marks the 130th anniversary of Dr Robert Koch's discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis , the microbe that causes tuberculosis.
This year, the Stop TB Partnership, which is an international collaboration of governmental and non-governmental organisations, the private sector, and others dedicated to fighting tuberculosis, has launched the "Stop TB in My Lifetime" campaign as a theme for World Tuberculosis Day.
Students at the ceremony participated in activities that raised awareness of the dangers of tuberculosis and highlighted ways the illness could be prevented.
Tuberculosis is one of the most widespread infectious diseases in the world with, according to WHO, an estimated one-third of the world's population infected with the bacteria that causes TB.
WHO reported that there were an alarming 8.8 million new cases of active tuberculosis and 1.4 million deaths caused by the disease in 2010, making it the eighth leading cause of death globally.
However, these numbers represent a decline in new cases since 2005. With 95 perce nt of TB deaths occurring in developing countries, tuberculosis is a public health problem that disproportionately affects the poor and young adults in their most productive years. Furthermore, there were 9.7 million orphaned children as a result of their parents' death from TB.
Nearly a cent ury and a half after Koch's discovery, stopping tuberculosis in our lifetime is a formidable challenge.
In Laos, among the 100,000 people tested in 2010-2011, 251 people tested positive for TB that was acquired through direct contact with infected people and an additional 572 people contracted the virus through indirect contact.
Tuberculosis monitoring agencies have improved their strategy for providing care throughout Laos to patients in isolated areas and to people at risk for contracting TB, such as people who are HIV positive, prisoners, drug users, malnourished, elderly or members of families in which people have already contracted the disease.
The symptoms of tuberculosis include coughing, chest pain, fatigue, fever, weight loss, chills, night sweats and loss of appetite. Although TB most often affects the lungs, it can also affect the brain, kidneys, and spine.
The disease can be easily spread when an individual with active tuberculosis - a disease state characterised by actively dividing bacteria - coughs, sneezes, talks, or spits releasing droplets containing M. tuberculosis into the air. If other people inhale these droplets, they may acquire the disease.
Significant progress has been made in the fight against TB in recent decades and since 1990 there has been a 40 per cent decline in the global death rate for the disease.