Posted on April 01, 2015

World Tuberculosis (TB) Day was on 24 March. In a joint effort to help raise awareness about this important disease, the treatment options available, and mitigating the effects of some of its misconceptions, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Supreme Council of Health (SCH), and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), have taken initiatives to reach out to the general public through media engagements and public awareness campaigns and activities.

“World TB Day is one of the most important events on our calendar at Hamad Medical Corporation. The theme this year was “Find, Treat, Cure TB”. To mark the day, public awareness activities were held at several locations in Qatar, in collaboration with SCH and PHCC,” said Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, the National TB Program Manager. “Our goal is to focus on the largest expatriate communities in Qatar. These communities include: Indian, Nepalese, Filipino and Bangladeshis. It is critical to call on everyone to come out and get educated. Education about treatment and prevention measures remains a top priority in the fight against tuberculosis - one of the world’s top infectious killers,” added Dr. Al Khal.

HMC, SCH and PHCC lead public 2 [].jpgIn collaboration with the SCH and PHCC, HMC held a three-day event from 26-28 March, inside a tent near the Grand Mall, at the West End Park in the Industrial Area. Information leaflets in different languages such as English, Arabic, Tagalog, Hindi and Nepalese were distributed to participants at these community events. Similar activities were held in several Asian schools and in some polyclinics. In addition, free medical check-ups were offered to visitors at West End Park event and those who presented with signs and symptoms of TB were referred to the TB Clinic at the Infectious Diseases Unit for evaluation and possible treatment.

TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable. The vast majority of TB cases can be cured when medicines are provided and taken properly. TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or expel saliva, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.

HMC, SCH and PHCC lead public 3 [].jpgWhen a person develops active TB (disease), the symptoms may be mild for weeks to months. Common symptoms of active lung TB are cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. About one-third of the world's population has dormant TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease. People who are infected with HIV are significantly more likely to become sick with TB. 

The risk of TB is also greater in persons suffering from other conditions that impair the immune system, including malnutrition and diabetes. People infected with the TB bacteria have a 10 % lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), active, drug-sensitive TB disease is treated with a standard six-month course of four antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision and support to the patient by a health worker or trained volunteer. Without such supervision and support, treatment adherence can be difficult and the disease can spread.

It’s noteworthy that TB treatment is totally free of charge in Qatar. Patients can normally return to work within 2-4 weeks of initiating the treatment.