By Lexi Elo
The World Health Organization (WHO) country representative in The Gambia, Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses, has said despite the progress made, TB continues to be a major public health concern and the African region has the highest TB and TB/HIV co-infection rates in the world.
The emerging challenge of drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) is yet to be adequately addressed, he added. According to the WHO official, over the last months, WHO estimated that TB was responsible for over a half a million deaths in the region.
“TB and TB/HIV spread is fuelled by, among others, poor access to health services, lack of trained health care providers, and weak health care delivery systems,” he said.
Annually, there is an estimated nine million new TB cases globally, but consistently three million cases are either not diagnosed, not treated, or are diagnosed and not registered by national TB control programme.
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Reaching, treating and curing all those with TB, especially the vulnerable groups and communities, is a critical part of the solution, which should be done more to prevent TB through poverty reduction and social protection and achieving universal health coverage, the WHO country representative further stated.
He added that the vulnerable population in this situation includes children and women, people living with HIV, people with diabetes, refugees, miners and ex-miners, prisoners and drug users, whose access to basic health care services might be limited.
“The poor are also at risk, especially homeless persons and individuals living in densely populated communities,” he said, adding: “Available information indicates that significant progress is being made to bring the TB epidemic under control in Africa.”