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  • Writer's pictureAnne O

A Spotlight on Tuberculosis

Today is world tuberculosis day and as we spotlight the continuing scourge of the disease we must bear in mind that it remains one of the deadliest infectious diseases in our world today. While it is no longer predominant in many developed countries, it remains a health problem across less developed countries where poverty and bad living conditions reign. According to WHO; of the 10 million people believed to be infected in 2018, 1.5 million of them succumbed to the infection. Currently, an estimated 4,000 deaths occur daily from TB infection.

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Despite these alarming figures, you will agree that the world has come a long way in battling the TB menace judging from the historical devastation caused by this pathogen. History alludes to the devastation humanity experienced from the scourge of tuberculosis where it earned names such as the “King’s Evil” in ancient England and France; "Phthisis" in ancient Greece; "Tabes" in ancient Rome; and other names including the white plaque, consumption and “Captain among these men of death” to mention a few.

Those were terrible times as one in four deaths were attributed to tuberculosis infection. In our time, we are most fortunate for the great strides made in science, medicine and technology in combating the infection. In the same vein, I am hopefully that we will prevail over the current Covid-19 pandemic pestering our world today.

Still, there remains a lot to be done particularly in dealing with drug resistant tuberculosis as well as reducing incidence rates in developing countries. I am hopeful that with funding towards continued research for combating drug resistant TB as well as patient friendly drug formulations, we will make even more progress towards ending this deadly infection.

On my part, I will ensure to continually advocate for BCG vaccinations for newborns, ensure proper referral for specialist centred treatment for TB infections, advocate for sanitary practices that reduce spread of TB, encourage drug compliance and ensure an enabling environment for TB control…and you, what will you do to end TB? 

Dr. Anne Olowu is a Public Health Physician and a Health Promotion Expert. She writes form Lagos, Nigeria

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