Saturday, March 27, 2010

Angola's New War: Against TB

Wednesday March 24 marked 'World Tuberculosis Day' and during the Angolan celebrations the coordinator of the National Tuberculosis Programme, Conceição Palma, suggested for the Health Ministry to integrate this sickness as its priority project, as she considers it a national emergency.

The official added that tuberculosis must be considered as a primary health issue, because it is interlinked with HIV/AIDS, deficient feeding conditions and access to medicines.  Coordinator Palma informed that in 2009 alone, 42,380 cases of TB were registered throughout the country with the significant cities of Luanda and Benguela marking more than 30 percent of all cases.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease. Like the common cold, it spreads through the air. Only people
who are sick with TB in their lungs are infectious. When infectious people cough, sneeze, talk or spit, they propel TB germs, known as bacilli, into the air. A person needs only to inhale a small number of these to be infected.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the incidence rate of TB in sub-Saharan Africa is nearly twice that of any other region in the world, at nearly 350 cases per 100 000 population. It is estimated that 1.6 million deaths resulted from TB in 2005. Both the highest number of deaths and the highest mortality per capita are in the Africa Region.

The TB epidemic in Africa grew rapidly during the 1990s, but this growth has been slowing each year, and incidence rates now appear to have stabilized or begun to fall.

HIV and TB form a lethal combination, each speeding the other's progress. HIV weakens the immune system. Someone who is HIV-positive and infected with TB bacilli is many times more likely to become sick with TB than someone infected with TB bacilli who is HIV-negative.  At present, the WHO lists TB is a leading cause of death among people who are HIV-positive in Angola and indicates that HIV is the single most important factor contributing to the increase in incidence of TB since 1990.

The U.S. CDC, USAID and Doctors Without Borders are the main agenices working with the Angolan Ministry of Health on programs to combat TB and TB/HIV activities. In 2004, the World Bank approved a five-year, $21 million grant to the Angolan government for a multisector approach that aims to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria.

No comments: