Call for collective efforts to fight tuberculosis

Kathmandu, March 24

Participants at a joint programme organised to mark the World Tuberculosis Day in the capital today highlighted the need to raise awareness about the disease, which causes almost one-and-a-half million deaths around the world every year.

The theme of the day was ‘Unite to End TB’.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Health Ram Janam Chaudhary said, “First level identification is important. Although NGO’s and INGOs are working well, their activities need to be transparent.

Political commitment should be made by the government to prioritise health as a development agenda and there should be more focus on preventive care than curative care.”

Dr Bikash Lamichhane, director, National Tuberculosis Centre, said, “I appreciate the efforts so far in the fight against TB. But we still have challenges  some patients do not visit health centres, while others do not complete full course of treatment.”

According to him, the government has prioritised TB programme. “We have also met the stop TB target of MDGs and new treatment cases have 92 per cent success rate. TB success rate has been constant for some years,” he informed.

The number of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis patients, however, has been increasing.

This year 379 multi-drug resistant TB cases were detected against 349 last year. The government has been providing nutrition and travel allowance to TB patients.

Shanta Bahadur Shrestha, secretary at the health ministry, said, “ The government has been providing free treatment to TB patients. It is our responsibility to inform people and raise awareness about TB in every corner of the country.”

Dr Jos Vandelaer, WHO representative, said, “TB should indeed be more than a rare disease.

In Nepal, progress has been made. Several MDGs have been achieved related to TB. But this is not enough and there are various challenges like TB detection and access to care. Multi-drug resistant TB is on the rise.”

Dr Puspa Chaudhary, director general, DoHS, said, “Management of patient is a challenge. It is important to reach communities.”