Ministry of Health launches yearlong campaign to combat TB

March 26, 2008

The Ministry of Health yesterday launched a yearlong national campaign to encourage early diagnosis of tuberculosis, the Arab News reported.

“The strategy of the national tuberculosis control program has succeeded to fulfill all targeted aims, including early diagnosis, free treatment and eliminating fatalities from the disease,” said Dr. Naila Abu Al-Jadayel, the program’s coordinator in Makkah Province, as quoted in the Arab News. She said the Kingdom is on par with the world’s advanced countries in eradicating tuberculosis.

The main concern how is the spread of a drug-resistant strain of TB that must be treated with expensive drugs for long periods of 18 to 24 months, said Dr. Tawfik Khoja, director general of the Executive Board of the Council of Health Ministers of GCC states. He noted that a study of 90,000 patients between 2002 and 2006 showed that the high drug-resistant TB has spread in 45 countries, most in the developing world.

Abu Al-Jadayel said the Ministry of Health has a program that targets healthcare workers through seminars and trainings on how to apply the TB-control program.

The Saudi campaign started a day after World TB Day on March 24. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a 2015 deadline to decrease TB cases and deaths from the infection by half.

According to the WHO, there are 500,000 drug-resistant TB cases each year, or five percent of TB cases worldwide. There are nine million TB cases registered annually, mostly in Africa and Asia. An estimated 1.5 million people died from TB in 2006.