26 TB deaths annually

TB survivor Beatrice Cassidy (front) with other survivors during the new TB logo launch and awareness at Sukuna Park on Saturday night. Picture: RAMA

TB survivor Beatrice Cassidy (front) with other survivors during the new TB logo launch and awareness at Sukuna Park on Saturday night. Picture: RAMA

LAST year, there were 358 new diagnosed tuberculosis (TB) cases in the country, 89 per cent of which have successfully completed treatment.

This was revealed by National (TB) control officer Dr Frank Underwood during an event to the World TB Day at Ratu Sukuna Park in Suva on Saturday night.

Dr Underwood said from the remaining 11 per cent, three per cent of the cases were lost because patients did not complete treatment and the balance sadly passed away.

“About 26 people die every year from TB. The reasons why they die are related to late presentations or they have other disease that make it difficult to cure them,” Dr Underwood said.

“High risk groups include anyone who is in contact with an infected person or is a diabetic. A person who is diabetic is three times likely to develop the disease if they are exposed. If a person was HIV positive, they are 50 times more likely to contract the disease.”

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

“This is coming down. It’s difficult to get rid of the disease because if a person is affected, it may take between two years or many years to develop the disease,” he said.

“We are still worried the disease is being transmitted within the community because of overcrowding. We have an urban TB problem in Suva, especially in informal settlements.”

He added nutrition status was a contributing factor and TB medication was free in the country and only available at TB units at Tamavua, Lautoka and Labasa hospitals.

Members of the public took advantage of getting themselves screened for TB and non-communicable diseases during the celebrations.

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