Friday, March 24 marks World Tuberculosis Day (TB) under the theme, “Yes! We can end
TB!” TB causes 1.6 million deaths each year and effecting millions more, with enormous impacts on families and communities, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
TB deaths in the Americas increased by an estimated 3,000 in 2020 compared to 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Thursday, adding that around 18,300 children live with the disease in the region, with limited access to diagnostics and treatment. Every day, more than 70 people die and 800 fall ill from TB in the Americas.
The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the ministry, says according to PAHO, World TB Day is commemorated annually to raise public awareness about the consequences of TB for those who suffer from this preventable and curable disease and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.
TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
TB mostly affects adults; however, all age groups are at risk.
TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze, or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
About one-third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease.
People infected with TB bacteria have a 10% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. However, persons with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or people who use tobacco, have a much higher risk of falling ill.
When a person develops active TB disease, the symptoms (such as cough, fever, night sweats, or weight loss) may be mild for many months. This can lead to delays in seeking care, and results in transmission of the bacteria to others.