Panel discusses report on the surge of tuberculosis

Panel discusses report on the surge of tuberculosis
Panel discusses report on the surge of tuberculosis

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Nevin Al Sukari - Abu Dhabi - The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

Governments should also look into another highly infectious respiratory disease-tuberculosis (TB)-while these are busy and continually being overburdened by the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID19).

The alert came by way of an international panel whose advocacy is to further improve the awareness, care and treatment as well as the elimination of TB, which has become a public health problem for decades globally, particularly among the poor and developing states.

The international panel which included World Health Organization (WHO)-Communicable Diseases Cluster-Global Tuberculosis Programme director Dr Tereza Kasaeva recently discussed the latest report on the surge of TB if neglected amidst the pandemic.

TB is characterized by blood-containing mucus chronic cough, fever, night sweats and weight loss. It is easily spread through cramp and overcrowded settings just like any other contagious condition.

“It has become the number one infectious killer disease (for the longest time). I urge that governments urgently also include in their COVID19 tests (the diagnostics) for TB,” said Kasaeva when it was her turn to speak at the May 20 webinar of the France-based The Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).

The webinar title was “How to Prevent 1.4 Million Deaths: Advancing TB Care and Prevention in the Time of COVID19.”

Saying that the signs and symptoms of COVID19 and TB are almost the same, Kasaeva also said that twinning the tests for these two respiratory concerns would be hitting two birds at one time.

She pressed on for the continuous enforcement of social distancing. She pointed out that all frontliners must be provided with additional protection against TB.

On the other hand, Kasaeva warned on the use of BCG vaccine-the anti-TB immunization given to newborns-on COVID19 patients, stating its efficacy has not been medically proven.

On March 24 this year and to mark the World Tuberculosis Day, WHO noted that the disease “remains to be the world’s infectious killer” with 4,000 deaths and 30,000 acquiring it every day.

The new report on the prevalence of TB in relation to COVID19 is a collaboration among Stop TB Partnership (administered by the United Nations Office for Projects Services and attached to the WHO), the Imperial College London, Avenir Health (a global health organization that provides tools and technical assistance in policy, planning, resource allocation and evaluation to enhance social and economic development), and John Hopkins University-US. The report is an evaluation of how governments and countries have been faring on addressing TB since COVID19 struck.


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