World Tuberculosis Day 2016- “Unite to End TB”
World TB Day is celebrated each year on March 24. This commemorates the day in 1882 when the organism which causes tuberculosis, a bacillus called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, was announced by Dr. Robert Koch.
TB is one of the world’s deadliest diseases. One third of the world’s population are infected with TB. In 2013, an estimated 9 million people developed TB worldwide, most of whom (80%) live in one of the 22 high burden countries for TB. Nigeria has the 4th highest TB burden in the world.
Mode of transmission
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease which usually attacks the lungs (Pulmonary TB), and, if left untreated can be deadly. TB bacteria are spread from person-to-person through the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, spits or speaks. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. TB cannot be transmitted through handshakes, hugging, kissing or sharing food, glasses, etc.
TB can also affect other parts of the body (Extra-pulmonary TB) such as the kidney, spine, and brain.
Most people have come in contact with TB bacteria and they live in the body without making them sick (Latent TB infection) because their immune systems are intact to fight the bacteria and stop them from growing. However, if the immune system is weak due to HIV/AIDS, chronic diseases like Diabetes mellitus, use of some drugs, chronic alcoholism, malnutrition, extremes of age, the TB bacteria become active and cause TB disease. The recent upsurge in the incidence of TB is due to the emergence of HIV/AIDS because HIV depresses the immune system. TB is the leading cause of death among HIV-infected individuals. Poor ventilation and overcrowding are some risk factors for developing TB disease.
Symptoms of TB disease include:
- Cough of 2 weeks or more
- Weight loss
- No appetite
- Night sweats
- Coughing up sputum or blood
Diagnosis and Treatment
TB can be diagnosed when the Mycobacterium tuberculosis organisms are seen in the sputum under a microscope (Sputum microscopy). TB can also be diagnosed with the GeneXpert technology where the genetic material of the bacteria are detected in sputum and other infected body fluids.
Tuberculosis can be cured by taking a combination of antibiotic drugs daily for at least 6 months.
Protecting others from TB involves:
- Covering all sneezes and coughs with a tissue, handkerchief or the inner arm
- Disposal of tissues in a trash bin, washing all used handkerchiefs
- Opening all windows and doors so that the clean air flowing can blow the TB germs outside
- Encouraging persons on TB treatment to take all TB medications daily and not skip doses
- Persons on TB treatment should check with the healthcare provider before stopping any TB medications
- People who live with or are in close contact with someone who has TB, should report to a heathcare provider in order to be screened for TB
The theme for this year’s World TB Day is “Unite to End TB”. So many people around the world still suffer from TB and our current efforts to find and treat latent TB infection and TB disease are inadequate. In healthcare settings, there should be prompt detection and isolation of infectious patients, airborne precautions should be put in place and prompt treatment of confirmed TB cases. In the community, people should be vigilant and advise persons who they notice to have any of the symptoms of TB to go to hospital for tests and treatment. This also serves to prevent other persons within the community from getting TB.
APIN, together with its partners, is at the forefront of supporting activities to end the scourge of Tuberculosis, especially among people living with HIV/AIDS. At all APIN-supported healthcare facilities, all persons living with HIV are clinically screened for TB at every clinic visit. Those who are symptomatic are promptly fast-tracked to see a clinician for diagnosis and treatment of TB. Those who do not have TB are provided with prophylactic therapy to prevent development of TB disease. APIN also supports and puts in place some Infection Control measures and equipment all to reduce the transmission of Tuberculosis within health facilities.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website on Tuberculosis (TB).
- National TB/HIV training for Programme managers training slides on TB/HIV Epidemiology