Fiji Time: 7:24 PM on Wednesday 29 March

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Talking about TB

Fred Wesley
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Vude Queen Laisa Vulakoro sang a different tune on Friday in Suva.

It was a far cry from her hits on stage. There were no keyboards to tune and beats of the drum and sounds of the guitar to back her. There were no fancy lights and white smoke to welcome her on stage.

Her focus of attention was on taking care of people suffering from tuberculosis.

They are people, she said, who needed support.

Vulakoro spoke during the World Tuberculosis Day at the PJ Twomey Hospital in Tamavua, Suva.

For an old disease that has been around for centuries, she pointed out, there would be questions on why we haven't "eradicated" it yet.

She said like many other sicknesses, people who contracted the disease were often discriminated against.

This, she said, could be linked to the lack of knowledge among many in various communities.

"Perhaps there is a lack of knowledge among communities that this disease is curable," she said.

It falls to reason then, she believes, that people need to be made aware that tuberculosis is curable as long as patients complete the recommended treatment.

And all it takes is ensuring medications are taken on a daily basis. Healthcare workers, she said, had been tasked with a huge responsibility in restoring health and vital energy into a TB patient.

"With the demanding workload, it is often difficult, keeping in mind that the patients you care for are individuals with needs," she said.

In October last year, the World Health Organization, in its Global Tuberculosis Report, showed that countries needed to move faster to prevent, detect and treat the disease if they were to meet global targets.

Governments, it said, had agreed on targets to end the tuberculosis epidemic "both at the World Health Assembly and at the United Nations General Assembly within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals".

They include, it said, a 90 per cent reduction in TB deaths and an 80 per cent reduction in TB cases by 2030 compared with 2015. Dr Margaret Chan, the director general for WHO, warned that we face an uphill battle to reach global targets for tuberculosis.

There must be a massive scale-up of efforts, she said, or countries would continue to run behind this deadly epidemic and these ambitious goals could be missed.

In a news release on October 13 last year, it said the report signalled the need for bold political commitment and increased funding.

But first things first! Let us learn about TB. Let us understand it and take action to fight it.

This is why awareness campaigns are important.

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