04 Mar World TB Day 2015
This year as always, on 24 March, the world marks World TB Day, one of the top health challenges around the globe. The day is designed to raise public awareness that tuberculosis (TB) remains an epidemic in much of the world, and also serves to focus international attention on the importance of combating the disease. It is an occasion to mobilise political and social commitment for further progress towards eliminating TB as a public health burden.
The global Stop TB Partnership has announced that the theme for World TB Day 2015 will continue on from the 2014 theme â Reach the 3 million. The sub-theme and message selected for this year is, âReach, Treat, Cure Everyoneâ. The objective is for all partners to continue their commitment to find, treat and cure all people with TB, and accelerate progress towards the bold goal of ending TB by 2035.
Facts about TB
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious airborne disease that is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
It primarily affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys or spine.
It is spread through the air when a person who has an active TB infection coughs, sneezes, or spits. Bacteria can enter the air and come into contact with uninfected person who breathes the bacteria into their lungs.
A person can be infected with the TB organism for years without getting sick or spreading it on to others, but when their immune system weakens for some reason, TB infection can develop into active disease.
It can be cured, but requires rigorous unbroken treatment that lasts for six months â failure to complete the treatment regimen can result in the emergence of drug-resistant strains of TB.
It is still a major problem in South Africa.
- Most people who become infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis do not show symptoms of the disease. However, when symptoms are present, they include:
- unexplained weight loss
- weakness or fatigue
- breathing difficulty e.g. shortness of breath
- night sweats
- loss of appetite
- Symptoms specific to the lungs include:
- coughing that lasts for three or more weeks
- coughing up blood
- chest pain
- painful breathing
- pain when coughing.
Who gets tuberculosis?
Although anyone can become infected with TB, individuals who live with those who have active TB infections, young children, and patients with HIV/Aids or other immune system problems are at a higher risk.
How can tuberculosis be prevented?
- The BCG vaccine is used in several parts of the world where TB is common, like South Africa. It usually protects children and infants from the disease.
- Better methods of preventing TB relapses include eating a diet that boosts the immune system, having regular TB tests if you work or live in a high risk environment, and completing a TB medication regimen.
- People with infectious TB should take their medicine as prescribed.
- If you are taking medication, go for regular check-ups and additional chest X-rays or sputum tests to see whether the medicine is working, and whether you are still infectious.
- Detection of early cases and prompt treatment are crucial in controlling the spread of TB.
- If you are infectious while at home, protect yourself and others as follows:
- Wash your hands after sneezing, coughing or holding your hands near your mouth or nose.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough, sneeze or laugh.
- Avoid close contact with others.
- Sleep in a room away from other family members.
- Ventilate your room regularly. TB spreads in small closed spaces. Put a fan in your window to blow out air that may contain bacteria.
We can all play a part in working towards zero TB infections and deaths. Help find, treat and cure those who get ill with TB. TB is treatable and curable.