World Tuberculosis Day -2019

Bhutan joined the global community to commemorate the World TB Day which falls on 24th March every year. This year, all schools and communities in Bhutan celebrated World TB day.

The day was observed to create awareness, to inform and to educate public on Tuberculosis. The Ministry of Health conducted a TB and other respiratory disease clinic at Clock Tower in Thimphu to screen presumptive TB cases.

The theme for this year’s world TB day “It’s time”- highlights that the drive to end TB has reached a critical phase. Bhutan has adopted the theme, ‘It’s time to find, treat and End TB- access Services for screening, treatment and prevention’. The theme stresses on the need for a concerted action by all relevant sectors of our society to provide the required support and services to End TB. Active case finding is an important step in linking people to timely treatment for quality life and to prevent further transmission.

TB is one of the priority public health problems for Bhutan as it affects the most productive age group of 15-49 years. Over the past few years the number of MDR-TB and HIV-TB co-infection cases have been increasing despite having made progress in the TB case detection rate and achieving high treatment success rate of more than 90%. In 2018, there were a total of 918 cases of all forms of TB reported by the Ministry of Health as against the estimated TB cases of 1100 (detection rate more than 85%). Incident of MDR-TB was 60 cases (33%) in 2017.

Several factors contribute to TB including unhealthy and crowded living conditions, malnutrition, highly mobile population and predisposing factors such as diabetes and HIV infection. These factors need to be taken into consideration and tackled through collaborative, collective and coordinated efforts of all of us to find, trace the contacts, screen and treat TB.

TB is an infectious disease and is predominantly a social and environmental problem affecting people from all walks of life in all age groups. TB is preventable, treatable and curable through Directly Observed Treatment (DOTs) of 6 to 8 months. However, most TB patients will start feeling better after a few weeks of treatment, and they STOP taking medicines in between resulting in incomplete treatment. This sets a dangerous precedence as partial or incomplete treatment leading to development of resistance to TB medicines, resulting in MDR-TB.