World running out of time to END Tuberculosis (TB)- says Health Minister, calls on Global Leaders to honour commitments

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On the occasion of World Tuberculosis Day 2022, the Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony is issuing a reminder that Guyana is doing its part to eradicate the disease that claims over 4100 lives daily (globally) despite it being a preventable and treatable disease.

The Minister touted “We have moved from one TB site in the year 2000 to now having 20 TB sites across the country, and five established TB clinics in the prisons. The Ministry has also rolled out regional testing for TB using the Gene X-pert technology. This reflects the Ministry’s strong commitment in carrying out a sustainable fight against Tuberculosis countrywide.”

Brought about by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria, the first spike in TB occurred in 1985 after the world experienced the emergence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This virus weakens the immune system, reducing the body’s ability to fight TB.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), there has been a marked increase in deaths from TB owing to Covid-19. On World Tuberculosis Day, PAHO issued a stern call for urgent investment in resources, support, care and information for the fight against tuberculosis (TB), as the COVID-19 pandemic reverses gains made against one of the world’s deadliest infections.
It is said that although more than 1.2 million lives were saved since 2000, yearly deaths have increased by an estimated 3,000 in 2020 due to interruptions in essential services.
Read the full statement:

On March 24th, 2022 Guyana joins the rest of the world in observing World Tuberculosis Day under the theme “Invest to END TB Save lives”.

The world is running out of time to act on commitments to END Tuberculosis (TB). This annual observance is geared at reminding our Global leaders that there is an urgent need to invest resources to accelerate the fight against Tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is identified as a priority health problem in our country. The Ministry of Health (MOH), through its Directly Observed Therapy (DOTS) programme, has expanded TB services across the ten administrative regions of Guyana. We have moved from one TB site in the year 2000 to now having 20 TB sites across the country, and five established TB clinics in the prisons. The Ministry has also rolled out regional testing for TB using the Gene X-pert technology. This reflects the Ministry’s strong commitment in carrying out a sustainable fight against Tuberculosis countrywide.

Over the past years, TB cases in Guyana has declined. Despite being preventable and curable, TB remains a challenge, causing 1.5 million deaths globally every year. This problem is further compounded by the COVID 19 pandemic, which has disrupted medical services and stagnated or reversed earlier gains.

Despite the C-19 Pandemic, the MoH TB treatment and care sites remained open so that patients could access care. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the dedicated TB staff who have been steadfast in performing their duties, despite the COVID-19 Pandemic.

One of the critical challenges in TB control in Guyana is the HIV epidemic within the population. Although strong collaboration between the TB and HIV programmes has led to a decline in TB/HIV co-infection rates, HIV remains one of the biggest concerns and underlying causes of TB morbidity and mortality. Other challenges include the high prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high substance misuse among TB patients and the access to services by isolated hinterland communities.

Over the years, we have seen the epidemiological shift in the TB epidemic which is evident mainly among the young working population in both urban and rural areas of the country. This places a huge burden on TB patients and their families due to catastrophic costs. Hence, it is an essential aspect of the End TB Strategy which the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security are currently addressing to improve the social protection of our less fortunate TB patients.

According to the Stop TB Partnership, the global gains addressing TB has been reversed and the entire TB community is advocating for urgent action to get back on track to fulfil the 2022 UN targets on TB. I reaffirm that our Ministry stands committed to implementing the UN Political Declaration on TB as we work towards universal access to quality prevention, diagnosis, and, treatment and care of Tuberculosis.

“Invest to END TB” by 2030 And Save Lives!!! Together we can make the difference, let’s all work together to END TB in Guyana!!!

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