Being aware, our business

The National TB (Tuberculosis) control officer Dr Frank Underwood has revealed there were 358 new diagnosed tuberculosis cases.

He said 89 per cent of these have successfully completed treatment in the country.

From the remaining 11 per cent, three per cent of the cases were lost because patients did not complete treatment and the balance died.

About 26 people, he said, died every year from TB.

The reasons they died, he said, were related to late presentation or they had other diseases that made it difficult to cure them.

High risk groups included anyone in contact with an infected person, or was a diabetic patient.

A person who was diabetic, he said, was three times likely to develop the disease if they were exposed. If a person was HIV positive, they were up to 50 times more likely to catch the disease.

Last year, he said, Fiji had an incidence rate which included 58 cases per 100,000 population.

The good news is that this is coming down.

What is worrying though is that it is difficult to get rid of the disease because if a person was affected, he said, it may take between two years or many years to develop the disease.

There was an urban TB problem in Suva, he said, especially in informal settlements.

TB medication was free in the country and only available at TB units at Tamavua, Lautoka and Labasa hospitals.

In the face of this revelation sits the meningococcal disease and dengue fever.

Meningococcal is frightening in the sense that it has the potential to kill people.

The meningococcal disease is much more dangerous than dengue, Health and Medical Services Minister Rosy Akbar said last week.

While warning students of Nadi about the disease, she said it posed a bigger threat to people.

“This is a bacteria that infects your blood and if it reaches your brain lining, then it could be deadly,” she said.

Dengue is also a deadly disease carried by mosquitoes.

In the face of all these threats and worrying issues, the key is being aware.

That means we must be aware of these diseases, the causes, symptoms and effective responses.

Being aware could be a matter of life and death.

It could be the barrier that ensures our loved ones are safe.

It starts with education. There is no room for complacency. Let us make it our business to read about these diseases, educate ourselves and our loved ones.