Today is World Tuberculosis Day and this is the same day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch discovered the bacterium that causes Tuberculosis. The theme this year is “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world.” The focus for this year is building commitment to end Tuberculosis all levels of leadership – international, national, state, local, you and I.
Tuberculosis (Tb) is a bacterial infection that mainly affects lungs. The infection could be active in which case the person is sick and can transmit the infection to another person or the infection could be inactive, in which case the infection is present in the body but does not cause infection neither can it be transmitted to another person. However, this latter case, needs to be treated as it can become active.
The issue of Tb has come more to the front burner with the advent of HIV/AIDS which causes a depression of the immune system such that the Tb infection can hold sway.
Symptoms of Tb include fever, cough that lasts for 3 weeks or more, coughing up blood, night sweats, weight loss etc
Treatment of Tb involves the use of a combination of drugs to prevent resistance. These drugs must be taken for the full course to prevent resistance. Common drugs used include Rifampicin, Isoniazid, Pyrazinamide and Ethambutol.
In countries like Nigeria, the vaccine BCG is the cornerstone of prevention and this is given to children at birth. Unfortunately, the poor economic conditions in most places in Africa makes this disease spread rapidly if one person gets it as overcrowding due to poor/inadequate housing helps the bacteria spread. Teaching people to cover their coughs and stay in well ventilated places also help.
Are you a leader for a Tb-free world? How are you contributing to ridding the world of this disease?