Today 24 March 2019 is World TB Day. This day is to observe and raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.
What is TB?
TB is a disease that mainly affects the lungs, but can be found in any other body organ. It is caused by a germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.The germs are present in the sputum coughed up by those that have TB of the lungs. The germs usually destroy the soft tissue of the lungs, and this causes cavities (holes) in the lungs, resulting in difficulty with breathing, and blood can be coughed up. If untreated, TB can cause death.
The theme of World TB Day 2019 - ‘It’s time’ – puts the accent on the urgency to act on the commitments made by global leaders to:
1. Scale up access to prevention & treatment
2. Promote equitable, rights-based & people-centered TB response
3. Ensure sufficient & sustainable financing including for research
4. Promote an end to stigma & discrimination
5. Build accountability
The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.
TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer. Each day, nearly 4500 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 54 million lives since the year 2000 and reduced the TB mortality rate by 42%. To accelerate the TB response in countries to reach targets – Heads of State came together and made strong commitments to end TB at the first-ever UN High Level Meeting in September 2018.
-World Health Organization
How do people get TB?
The disease is passed on from person to person. When a person who has TB coughs, sneezes or spits, germs are spread into the air from where they can be breathed in. Fortunately not all those infected contract TB, in most cases the germs are sealed off in the body and they do not multiply. However, if the body's defenses can no longer control the germs, they become active and the person gets TB.
Who is at risk?
Close contacts of TB patients
Children under 5 years
Persons with diseases like diabetes and AIDS
HIV positive persons with lowered immune systems
Persons who take excessive alcohol and drug addicts
Persons with poor nutrition and lack of food
Persons suffering from stress
Persons living in poorly ventilated, over-crowded rooms
What are the signs and symptoms of TB?
A cough for longer than 2 weeks
Tiredness and weakness of the body
Loss of appetite and weight
Night sweats, even when it is cold
Coughing up blood
How can TB be prevented?
People on TB medication must complete their treatment, this prevents the spread of TB.
Cover your mouth and nose with tissue paper or your hands when coughing or sneezing. Do not cough / sneeze / spit on other people. Do not let other people cough, sneeze or spit on you.
Wash hands with soap and water.
Immunise of all babies at a clinic within 1 year of birth.
Keep your body healthy by eating balanced meals consisting of food like meat, fish, eggs, beans, mills, amasi, brown bread, maize meal, vegetables, fruits.
Alcohol should be avoided because it lowers the body's resistance to sickness and affects the treatment.
Smoking causes further damage to the lungs and can also cause heart disease and lung cancer.
Keep your window open in your home - fresh air blows the TB germs away and sunshine kills the TB germs
Keep your body healthy by exercising
Striving for better health we can all make a contribution towards a healthier lifestyle by taking action TODAY. It's Time, Better health for all.
PHOTO CREDIT: World Health Organization
Stop TB partnership