Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - National TB stats show 13,000 fatalities

National TB stats show 13,000 fatalities

National TB stats show 13,000 fatalities

T HE Ministry of Health is alarmed at a large increase in tuberculosis, which has

claimed about 13,000 fatalities this year.

So far this year 40,000 people

with tuberculosis have been reported, compared to 15,000 in all of last year,

according to Dr Kong Kim San, director of the National Anti-Tuberculosis

Center.

He said he many of those who died of tuberculosis also had the

HIV virus or Aids, which made their immune systems less resistant to such

diseases.

The Ministry of Health has declared tuberculosis its number one

priority.

At a anti-tuberculosis training seminar for health officials

from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in Phnom Penh last month, Secretary of State for

Health Dr Narong Rith Dy said three million people a year died of tuberculosis

worldwide.

Tuberculosis was one of the leading causes of death among both

adults and children.

World Health Organization representative Dr G.

Petersen urged more recognition of the devastation caused by the

disease.

"Every second, someone is infected with TB in the world. TB has

not in the past been a primary concern of women's health groups, although it

kills as many women as all maternal causes. It has not been taken up by child

survival advocates, although it kills 300,000 children each year in the world,"

he said.

Petersen said nearly 20 per cent of detected tuberculosis cases

in the western Pacific region were found in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, despite

those countries representing only 5 per cent of the region's

population.

"We know exactly what needs to be done to stop TB. The most

effective way to fight TB is to stop it at its source. The source of the

epidemic's uncontrolled spread is infectious TB people who are not being

cured,"

"Early diagnosis of infectious cases by...examination of all

suspect cases is critical," he said.

Narong Rith Dy said ensuring that

anti-tuberculosis drugs were a priority in Cambodia's medical-supply system was

vital.

"The government must establish policies and devote resources to

ensure that the right combination of medicines is taken for the proper length of

time, that health workers observe their patients taking this medicine and that a

national TB program is established to monitor progress, he said.

Kim San

said infectious cases should be treated for a total of 1 year, but usually got

only 4-5 months of treatment in Cambodia.

People could be infected, and

spread the disease to others in close proximity, without knowing

it.

Narong Rith Dy said the disease preyed on disadvantaged people,

especially those with poor nutrition and lack of clean water.

The best

way to prevent its spread was to keep houses clean and hygienic and ensure

proper sanitation.

The disease had physical, social and economic

consequences, including loss of productivity.

Widely prevalent in the

places of poor economic and social standards, it further aggravated the lives of

the poorest people.

The provinces with the most infected people included

Takeo, Svay Rieng, Prey Veng and Kampong Speu.

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