World TB Day: Nepal yet to achieve MDG on TB control

Kathmandu, March 23:

Nepal is still lagging behind in achieving the millennium development goal (MDG) on TB control. The MDG states that TB should not remain a public health problem.

Dr Pushpa Malla, director, National Tuberculosis Centre (NTC), told this daily that the country has achieved the global target of TB control of 70 per cent case finding and 85 per cent cure of the total cases.

This year, the government is celebrating World TB Day with the message ‘TB anywhere is TB everywhere’.

It is estimated that 45 per cent of the total population is infected with TB. Sixty per cent of the infected are adults. According to the NTC, there are 80,000 TB patients and each year 40,000 people will be infected.

There is a rapid increase in the number of cases with both HIV and TB, which is a deadly combination, and HIV among TB patients too is posing a huge threat, as TB is a leading killer of people living with HIV. The sentinel site survey conducted in 2001 by the NTC showed that 2.3 per cent of the TB patients are infected with HIV/AIDS. “The national TB programme has incorporated a policy to address both TB and HIV/AIDS. The policy must be endorsed at the earliest to save the lives of many,” said Dr Malla.

Arjun Bahadur Singh, spokesperson, Health Ministry, said stopping TB is every person’s responsibility. “The policy to address HIV and TB is in the making,” he said. “We will come out with it within a few months.”

“Raising awareness on the diseases is the most important part as the more patients seek medical advice, the more likely it will be for us to achieve MDGs by 2015.”

Meanwhile, a training and a workshop on Localising the MDGs in Asian Countries through Innovative Leadership and Community Empowerment concluded today.

Participants called for the allocation of power and resources to the local bodies to achieve eight MDGs.