The incidence of tuberculosis (TB) is on the decline, says Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, and she recently disclosed that in 2018 the TB incidence was just 69 per 100,000 population.

Through intensified efforts to raise awareness about TB over the past years the TB epidemic has shown some form of stability with statistics suggesting that its incidence is on the decline, the minister said. This decline, she further said, is also noticeable in the prisons where in 2018 only eight new cases were detected.

“This indeed the lowest number of new TB cases recorded in 19 years which is a direct reflection of the commitment of the Ministry in combating this disease in key populations,” said Dr. Cummings.

But, according to the Health Minister, despite being curable, TB continues to be listed as the top infectious killer worldwide, claiming over 4,500 lives daily. According to the Minister, the emergence of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) poses a major health threat and could put at risk the gains made in efforts to end TB worldwide.

Anti-TB medicines have been used for decades, Dr. Cummings said, adding that strains that are resistant to one or more of the medicines have been identified across the world. Drug resistant emerges when there is poor quality drugs, patients stop treatment prematurely; anti-TB medicines are used inappropriately and through incorrect prescriptions.

Moreover, here in Guyana TB has been identified as a priority health problem. In this regard the Public Health Ministry through its National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP) has been calling on persons to become more involved in the fight against TB by educating themselves about the disease and to assist in raising awareness among others.

Through its Directly Observed Treatment (DOT) programme, the NTP is fully committed to working with all relevant stakeholders to enhance the DOTS programme by particularly expanding and strengthening the Community DOTS Initiative in the hinterland regions. This tactical move, according to Dr. Cummings, “will definitely boost the fight against TB countrywide”.


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