NGOs can no longer ignore the scale of Cambodia's TB problem believes the World Health
Organization's TB consultant in Cambodia, Dr Pierre-Yves Norval.
WHO is supporting the new national tuberculosis program which kicks off in a month.
Previous programs have failed and WHO cites as reasons insufficient funding, inadequate
drug supplies and no supervision of drug courses.
The disease can spread rapidly when people live in close contact over an extended
period of time. Victims often conceal the disease because of its social stigma and
often avoid help until too late.
According to Dr Norval the presence of HIV can accelerate the onset of TB, which
might otherwise lie dormant in a person's body. This leaves the victim with even
less time to acknowledge the disease and seek treatment.
Control of the disease is essential. The national program will provide medication
free of charge but continuity is essential.
"The problem is not health education," said Dr Norval, "but staff
education, to provide the quality of service needed to implement the drug program."
Short Course Chemotherapy, costing $40 per person, will be implemented within three
The program also hopes to improve training and ensure drug supplies at district level.
Vaccination can prevent complications for children under two years old.
In its fund-raising efforts, WHO points out that hundreds of millions of dollars
are to be spent reconstructing Cambodia's roads. But, it asks, if the TB epidemic
is not checked, who will use them?