GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Worldwide, Tuberculosis (TB) along with HIV is the leading causes of death among infectious diseases. Each year 1.4 million people die from this disease.
With the slogan “Unite to end tuberculosis,” the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is promoting efforts so that together we will tackle TB by stamping out poverty; together we will better test, treat, and cure; together we will stop discrimination and stigma; and together we will drive research and innovation.
TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
About one-third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease.
People infected with TB bacteria have a 10% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. However, persons with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or people who use tobacco, have a much higher risk of falling ill.
When a person develops active TB disease, the symptoms (such as cough, fever, night sweats, or weight loss) may be mild for many months. This can lead to delays in seeking care, and results in transmission of the bacteria to others.
People with active TB can infect 10–15 other people through close contact over the course of a year. Without proper treatment, 45% of HIV-negative people with TB on average and nearly all HIV-positive people with TB will die.
In the Region of the Americas, in 2015: 268,500 people became sick with tuberculosis; 24,400 people died due to TB including TB/HIV; 31,700 people acquired TB/HIV; and 50,000 people that had TB were not diagnosed.
Six countries account for 60% of the total, with India leading the count, followed by Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.
Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, said on Friday that Sint Maarten does not have any cases of TB, and maintains a level of alertness to make sure if a case is identified that it is treated immediately.
TB, the world’s top infectious disease killer, claims 5 000 lives each day, according to PAHO. The heaviest burden is carried by communities which already face socio-economic challenges: migrants, refugees, prisoners, ethnic minorities, miners and others working and living in risk-prone settings, and marginalized women, children and older people.
CPS fully supports efforts by governments, communities, civil society and the private sector around the world, to unite to end this disease through a collective effort and collaboration.
Poverty, malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation, compounded by other risk factors such as HIV, tobacco, alcohol use and diabetes, can put people at heightened risk of TB and make it harder for them to access care.
More than a third (4.3 million) of people with TB go undiagnosed or unreported, some receive no care at all and others access care of questionable quality.
World TB Day is an opportunity to mobilize political and social commitment for further progress in efforts to end TB. This year, World TB Day signals new momentum at the highest levels with the announcement of the first ever Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB, which will be held in Moscow in November 2017.
The Conference will inform the United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting on TB which will be held in 2018.