Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Communicable Diseases Centre (CDC), the region’s first hospital dedicated to the identification and treatment of infectious diseases, is leading the fight against tuberculosis in Qatar.

World TB Day, observed on 24 March each year, is designed to build public awareness of tuberculosis. The disease remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the death of nearly 1.5 million people each year, mostly in developing countries. Tuberculosis, commonly referred to as TB, is a contagious infection that usually attacks the lungs. It can also spread to other parts of the body, including the brain and spine. A type of bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis causes the disease.

The theme for World TB Day 2017 is ‘Unite to End TB’, according to Dr Muna Al Maslamani, Medical Director of the Communicable Disease Centre (CDC). Globally, more than two billion people are infected with TB. But as a disease, TB is both preventable and curable. In Qatar, there is a very low incidence of TB, which is a result of the country’s strong and innovative infectious disease control programme.

This year, the CDC marked World TB Day with a series of educational lectures held at the facility for healthcare staff. A range of fun and educational activities for patients and visitors were also organised. Dr Al Maslamani said that CDC is home to the National TB Control Programme and the state-of-the-art TB Laboratory, which provides all public and private health facilities in Qatar with TB diagnostics and leadership.

In 2016, CDC screened around 32,157 patients referred from HMC facilities, primary care centres, the Medical Commission and private hospitals, for their exposure to active TB cases. While the Centre treats residents who have been diagnosed with the infectious disease, those with ‘latent’ (inactive) TB also receive preventive treatment.

If you are suspected or confirmed to have TB then you will be referred to the CDC for ongoing diagnostics, specialised treatment, and care. Healthcare for TB patients in Qatar is free of charge and those affected can return to work usually within two weeks of starting treatment.

Dr Al Maslamani said the key to fighting the spread of TB is to remove the stigma attached to the disease.

There is still much to be done to raise public awareness of the disease. It is a fact that TB is contagious but it is very hard to catch. The more we educate people about risk factors and prevention, the greater the chance we can eliminate it.’

The CDC is a 9,000 square metre purpose-built facility which has 65 single patient rooms, all with negative pressure and 100 percent fresh air exchange, and with the capacity to be converted into isolation units.

For more information, visit hamad.qa.