Thursday, March 24, 2022

Today is World TB Day

TB is listed as the third major cause of premature death in Cape Town, World Tuberculosis Day is commemorated annually on the 24th of March to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB. TB is a potentially serious infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs. It is also the world’s deadliest infectious disease.

The focus of this year’s event was to invest in action to end TB. While there has been a vaccine for TB for over 100 years it is still said to not be very effective in preventing the disease.

Before the COVID pandemic started, TB was killing more people per year than many other diseases, including HIV and malaria, combined.

In South Africa roughly 80,000 people die from TB each year, according to Professor Yogan Pillay, Country Director for Clinton Health Access Initiative.

Pillay said it was estimated that 400,000 people contracted TB each year in South Africa where around 150,000 of those people did not receive any treatment.

The City OF Cape Town’s Health Department has collaborated with different sectors to address the impact of TB, and to find new ways of combating the disease. This includes non-profit organisations (NPOs) and research institutions.

TB HIV Care, an NPO, has been working and supporting City facilities for the past three years in the fight against TB. A pilot project involves digital chest x- ray mobile services to improve screening for and detection of TB. Another NPO, ANOVA Health Institute, aims to improve outcomes for clients with TB/HIV co-infection through the integration of HIV and TB services.

The W-H-O- says Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 66 million lives since the year 2000. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of progress made in the fight to end TB.

Sadly, for the first time in over a decade, TB deaths increased in 2020.

Meanwhile, Nigeria recorded a 50 per cent increase in Tuberculosis notifications from 138,591 cases in 2020 to 207,785 in 2021.

By Danielle Mentoor

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