World TB Day finally marks a promising shift

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BY Tanny.E.Vahi

THE commemoration of the World TB Day has raised public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of tuberculosis (TB) and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.

With the theme; “Leaders Lets Work Together For a TB Free Solomon Islands”, it was commemorated at the SIBC leaf hut with participants from different various health departments attending it.

The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.

The theme World TB Day 2018 – Leaders Lets Work Together For a TB Free Solomon Islands focuses on building commitment to end TB, not only at the political level with Heads of State and Ministers of Health, but at all levels from Mayors, Governors, parliamentarians and community leaders, to people affected with TB, civil society advocates, health workers, doctors or nurses, NGOs and other partners. All can be leaders of efforts to end TB in their own work or terrain.

Stakeholder representatives in a group photo.

Last year, WHO reported that 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and there were 1.8 million TB deaths in 2016, making it the top infectious killer worldwide. This disease is deeply rooted in populations where human rights and dignity are limited. While anyone can contract TB, the disease thrives among people living in poverty, communities and groups that are marginalized, and other vulnerable populations.

These include: migrants, ethnic minorities, miners and others working and living in risk-prone settings, the elderly, marginalised women and children in many settings etc. Factors such as malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation, compounded by other risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use and diabetes, affect vulnerability to TB and access to care.

Furthermore, this access is often hindered by catastrophic costs associated with illness, seeking and staying in care, and lack of social protection, resulting in a vicious cycle of poverty and ill-health. The transmission of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) adds great urgency to these concerns.

In their speeches advocators from the ministry of health organisations and ministries, based on the theme, highlights concerns by this public health problem to increase the efforts to make the goal of universal access to TB prevention and care achievable through meaningful involvement in and support to the interventions planned In the TB national strategic plan, most of them operationalised in the Global Fund New Funding model project that was approved after successful submission by the Solomon Islands in 2014 and again in 2017. This will help cut further the transmission chain of the disease while reducing human suffering and adverse economic consequences of the diseases.

In the final and keynote address for the celebration, Nemia Bainivalu Under Secretary, Health Improvement highlights the challenges of the programme

“Despite the successes, the TB programme still faces with some challenges: Inadequate case detection activities, limited Community-Based Directly Observed Treatment, short-course (CB-DOTs), inadequate TB/HIV services and inadequate quality assurance,” he said.

He also noted that the programme needs to intensify the case detection effort to find others.

“We need to find, treat and cure them thereby cutting the chain of transmission of the diseases in the communities and at the same time reducing human suffering and adverse economic consequences of the disease,” he added.

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