Materia Medica Malaysiana

March 14, 2007

TB No. 1 killer infectious disease

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:55 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Tuberculosis is the nation’s number one killer among infectious diseases, with an estimated 16,000 new cases a year.
Despite the government’s efforts, Malaysia is now listed at the “intermediate” level by the World Health Organisation.
The country has an incidence rate of 25 to 100 cases per 100,000 population.
Last year alone, 16,665 new cases were registered out of which more than 60 per cent, or 10,274 cases, were infectious.
Since 2000, the number of Malaysians infected with TB has been steadily rising, with more than 900 deaths reported annually.
Dr Pieter van Maaren, regional adviser for the Stop TB programme at the WHO’s regional office for Western Pacific, said countries in the Western Pacific region, including Malaysia, had made good progress in the fight against TB. But, the battle was far from over.
“As a region, we have achieved the global targets set for 2005. We now face the challenge of making an even greater impact on the TB burden by meeting the regional targets for 2010,” he said.
Representatives of health ministries from eight countries and TB experts are attending a three-day meeting, which ends today, in Kuching to review the progress made by individual countries as well as the region as a whole.
WHO and its member states had set a 2005 regional target of detecting at least 70 per cent of TB cases, to cure at least 85 per cent of those detected and to achieve full coverage with the world health body’s recommended strategy for TB control.
These interim targets were set as a means to eventually meet the 2010 goal of reducing the prevalence and deaths due to TB by half, compared to the 2000 levels.
“Despite the good progress made in recent years, over 3.5 million TB cases and nearly 300,000 deaths still occur in the region every year. We still have a lot of work to do before we can meet the goal we have set for ourselves,” cautioned Dr van Maaren, who urged countries to step up their efforts.
Most countries face significant constraints including limited access to quality treatments, multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) strains, HIV-associated TB epidemics, lack of human resources and weaknesses in the health systems.
An estimated one-quarter of the global cases of multidrug-resistant TB is in the Western Pacific region, with 140,000 cases in China alone.
Reports of extensively drug- resistant TB emerged last year and have been documented in two countries in the region — South Korea and the Philippines.
TB-HIV co-infection is a major challenge in Cambodia and Papua New Guinea, the two countries in the region with a generalised HIV epidemic.
“In settings, such as in Singapore and Malaysia, where TB and HIV share common risk factors, TB-HIV co-infection is of increasing concern,” said Dr Han Tieru, WHO representative in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.
Dr van Maaren also said TB had the highest incidence of infectious diseases detected among foreign workers in Malaysia.
Last year, 1,853 new cases were registered among foreign workers. They made up 11.1 per cent of the total number of new cases registered last year.

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