wpid-230px-Tuberculosis-x-ray-1.jpgTuberculosis is currently a national security threat due to its contagious, high infection and airborne nature affecting mostly young adults in their economic and productive years.

Health Minster, Sherry Ayittey said the disease, if not curbed, could have enormous negative socio-economic impacts in endemic countries like Ghana because the damaging impact was not limited to only patients involved but their families and the country as well.

She said this at the 2014 World TB Day in Accra, on the theme ?Reaching the missed TB cases: the untold story of the Ghanaian?

The Minister noted that globally, three million TB cases are missed, while 4000 TB cases were missed or undetected in Ghana, saying that, it was enough to trigger the alarm bells, knowing that each of these undetected cases would infect between 10-15 persons each year.

With HIV identified as a driving force behind the escalating TB epidemic, it has also become one of the main causes of death among infected patients making early detection very appropriate.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) TB control 2009 annual report, the new TB detection rate in Ghana, according to a 2007 data, was estimated at 26 per cent and that of Sputum smear positive cases at 38 per cent.

This means 74 percent of all cases in Ghana were not detected, hence not treated. The detection of cases was therefore far below the global target of 70 per cent required to significantly reduce the burden of the disease.

The Health Minister said to achieve the WHO defined MDG target zone of 70 per cent, Ghana needs to adopt robust systems that would increase the detection rate.

Despite treatment success rate increase to 84 per cent, it is estimated that 12,000 deaths occurred in Ghana in 2007, with 95 per cent of TB deaths occurring in the developing world.

To this end, Ghana is currently implementing a TB strategy, which recognises that individuals and communities infected and affected by TB have to be empowered with critical mass of information on the transmission of the disease, availability of cure, status disclosure and community engagement in the TB control.

The strategy is expected to find missing cases, as people would not be afraid to disclose their status.

Due to myths and misconceptions, people suffer silently and painfully for a condition that is curable. ?We cannot allow this to continue. TB should be stopped and barriers removed? Ms Ayittey said, and encouraged the general public to have regular medical examinations, including check ?x rays, at least once every two years.

She implored health personnel to fish out for missed cases in overcrowded institutions such as prisons and mental health facilities.

Government, she said, would expand health infrastructure including CHPS compounds to increase access to TB care.

? A new National strategic plan post 2015 is currently under development, all stakeholders including development partners and civil societies are invited to make significant input to enable the country to meet the TB elimination target by 2035.It is in our collective interest to join hands to reach out to missed TB cases?, she said.

The WHO Representative in Ghana, Dr Magda Robalo said the TB epidemic in Africa was largely fuelled by poverty and TB-HIV morbidity, but however noted that, the rising trend of TB cases has halted and continues to be to decline, as treatment success rate improves and so has death rates and the number of people who fail to complete their TB treatment.

In Ghana TB incidence and mortality have been declining steadily since 2000, with TB rates success remaining over 80 per cent since 2007 and defaulter rate declining from 11.3 per cent in 2005 to 3 per cent currently.

According to her, the TB prevalence rate for Ghana would be established soon after analysis of the prevalence survey carried last year.

?To reach the missing patient and move towards eliminating TB we need to scale up interventions such as Directly Observed Treatment Strategy (DOTS), TB/HIV collaborative activities, especially for vulnerable groups such prisoners, miners and people living in slums?. GNA

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