TB in Bhutan: the rate of infection doesn’t decrease

Thimpu (Bhutan): Health officials say that though the rate of new pulmonary positive tuberculosis cases in Bhutan  appear to be  constant for eight straight years, there could be undiagnosed cases in the community.

In 2000, 359 TB cases were recorded. Thirteen years since, in 2013, the count had increased to 425 out of which 42 percent were aged between 15 and 24. About five percent were below the age of 14 years.

TB is caused by mycobacterium TB bacterium. TB usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. Most people exposed to TB never developed symptoms as the bacteria could live in an inactive form in the body.TB

Young children, alcoholics, drug abusers and people with HIV/AIDS who live in close contact with a pulmonary positive patient are more vulnerable.

Of the different types of TB, about 38 percent of detected cases were new smear positive TB and 42 percent extra pulmonary TB. Thimphu recorded the highest pulmonary positive TB cases, followed by Chukha and Samtse.

National TB Control Programme (NTCP) officials said the fact that pulmonary positive TB is infectious and can spread through respiratory droplets.

“There is the need to intensify case-finding efforts as untreated case can infect 10 to 15 people in a year,” NTCP’s programme officer Tashi Dendup said. “TB can be fatal if left untreated.” Early diagnosis and treatment is key for TB control and prevention.

While TB can be cured, it is important for TB patients to take medicines regularly as advised until the completion of the treatment course, said health officials. If a patient fails to do so, there is high risk of getting multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), a severer form of TB.

NTCP officials said key challenge facing the program is implementing the practice of directly observed treatment (DOT). It was still difficult to find out whether treatment is provided and taken as advised.

“Poor implementation of DOT is linked to the increasing number of MDR-TB cases,” said Tashi Dendup. “Delay between the onset of symptom and diagnosis is also being studied. This could mean that the health system is not the preferred first point of contact.”

Besides awareness, NTCP officials said intensified case-finding activities are carried out in schools and institutions, and among migrant workers and vulnerable groups.

“We are also establishing partnership with indigenous medicine units,” said an NTCP official.

TB patients are also called up regularly to remind them about their medicines, to monitor side effects, and to follow up on examinations, among others.

TB detection and treatment success rate at about 85 percent and 90 percent notwithstanding, the cases have remained stagnant over the years.

Share Button
Posted by on April 18, 2014. Filed under Breaking News,EARTH,Featured,HEALTH. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login