Caribbean lead to way with fight against TB

Caribbean countries have the lowest incidence of tuberculosis (TB) and are on the road to elimination, the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) said Tuesday.

They said the region of the Americas is the area with the lowest percentage of new TB cases in the world, estimated at three per cent, and is the first region with a real opportunity to eliminate the disease as a public health problem.

According to the “Tuberculosis in the Americas 2018 “report, 15 countries,12 of them from the Caribbean, have low TB incidence, with less than 10 cases per 100,000 people and are on the road to elimination.

“Countries are adopting measures to tackle TB, but they cannot lower their guard and must redouble efforts, along with the collaboration of society at large, including the affected communities” said Marcos Espinal, Director of PAHO’s Department of Communicable Diseases and Environmental Determinants of Health.

The report’s other recommendations for accelerating progress toward eliminating TB, especially in the countries with the greatest disease burden, include: promoting the study of contacts with people who have TB, especially children under 15; stepping up implementation of simpler treatment regimens and introducing drugs for children.

Other recommendations include reaching the most vulnerable populations and addressing social determinants as well as ensuring that plans are financed with a country’s own resources rather than depending on external funds.

According to the new report, issued on the eve of the first United Nations High-level Meeting on Ending TB, between 2000 and 2015, deaths from tuberculosis fell by 37.5 per cent in the Americas and new cases dropped by 24 per cent.

In 2017, the WHO estimated 282,000 new cases of TB in the Americas, 11 per cent of which were in people living with HIV.  An estimated 24,000 people died last year from tuberculosis in the region, and 6,000 of them were co-infected with HIV.

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