Posted on March 24, 2016

On the occasion of World Tuberculosis Day, observed globally on 24 March, every year, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and the Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with Eid Charity and other partners, are organizing a series of activities aimed at raising public awareness about Tuberculosis (TB). According to the Chair of the World TB Day Organizing Committee, Dr. Mulham Mohamed Saleh, Clinical Epidemiologist at HMC’s Infectious Disease Unit, the activities will be held on Thursday, 24 March from 4 pm to 10 pm at Aspire Park.

The event will feature mini presentations for the public in Arabic, Hindi and English; a choral presentation by staff from HMC’s Communicable Diseases Unit; a pop quiz with prizes for children; video presentations about TB in four different languages; distribution of information pamphlets; and free medical check-ups for visitors to the park. People who present with signs and symptoms of TB during check-ups will be referred to the Communicable Disease Clinic at HMC for further evaluation and possible treatment.

Mr. Ali Al Khater, Chief Communications Officer, HMC’s Corporate Communications, said: “This year’s theme ‘Unite to End TB’ calls on governments and societies to work together to eliminate TB, which today remains one of the world’s top infectious causes of death. We are glad members of the public have come out to get educated about treatment and prevention measures in order for the fight against TB to succeed.”

Dr Hamad Eid Al-Romaihi, Manager of Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control at Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said the ministry is always keen to promote healthy choice of living among Qatar’s population by organizing and supporting events that highlights ways of combating communicable diseases such as TB and other infectious diseases. “The MoPH, working very closely with HMC, is implementing all public health measures that enable Qatar to eliminate TB as per the World Health Organization’s goals. MoPH will remain vigilant in monitoring and preventing the spread of communicable diseases within the community as well as ensuring that people affected by TB have easy access to the highest standards of care,” he said.

National TB Program Manager, Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal explained that: “World TB Day commemorates the day in 1882 when German physician and microbiologist, Dr. Robert Koch, announced his discovery of the cause of TB, thus opening the way towards diagnosing and curing the disease. This theme resonates with our commitment to foster education and research that will advance knowledge on TB, enhance care for patients and supports the efforts to eliminate this disease.”

“Tuberculosis, although can be deadly, is a highly curable and preventable disease. TB is caused by a type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis that most commonly affects the lungs but can affect other parts of the body like the lymph nodes and the brain. TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or speak, they aerosolize the TB germs into the air, which are then inhaled by those near the patient. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected,” explained further Dr. Al Khal.

He said persons suffering from other conditions that impair the immune system, such as malnutrition, diabetes and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are at greater risk for TB. People exposed to TB bacteria have a 10 percent lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. “The vast majority of TB cases can be cured when appropriate medicines are provided and taken properly. In Qatar, TB treatment is totally free of charge, and patients can normally return to work within two-four weeks of initiating the treatment,” added Dr. Al Khal.

When a person develops active TB disease, the symptoms may be mild for weeks to months. Common symptoms of active lung TB are persistent cough with sputum which maybe tinged with blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. For active, drug-sensitive TB, the World Health Organization recommends 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. 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.

Mr. Yousif Jassim, Head of Eid Charity Local Sector Development said: “We at Eid Charity are happy to participate in a family-oriented event like this one especially to demonstrate our commitment to partner with various national organizations in promoting social and humanitarian activities in Qatar.” He added that Eid Charity highly appreciates the role of the MoPH and HMC in educating the public to lead a healthy lifestyle as well as ensuring the availability of quality care to all patients.