The Communicable Disease Centre (CDC) of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is taking the fight against tuberculosis (TB) to the communities with a public education, awareness, and prevention event this Friday, 23 March between 3 pm and 6 pm at Lulu Hypermarket in Al Khor Mall. Members of the public will have an opportunity to learn how to identify and prevent the infectious disease, and clinical teams from HMC will offer free basic health checkups.
World TB Day, which is recognised on 24 March each year aims to build public awareness on tuberculosis. The disease remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing nearly 1.7 million deaths each year, mostly in developing countries. Tuberculosis, commonly referred to as TB, is a contagious and infectious disease that usually attacks the lungs. It can spread to other parts of the body, including the brain and spine. A type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes the disease.
The disease is classified as latent TB or active TB, with signs and symptoms of active TB including a cough that lasts three or more weeks, coughing up blood, chest pain, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, and night sweats.
According to Dr Muna Al Maslamani, Medical Director of CDC, more than two billion people are infected with TB globally. He emphasised that as a disease, TB is both preventable and curable. In Qatar, he said that there is a very low incidence of TB, which is the result of the country’s infectious disease control programme and education initiatives.
In 2017, we screened 11,000 patients referred from HMC facilities, primary care centres, the Medical Commission, private hospitals, and Qatar Red Crescent. At CDC, we have a highly specialised medical team that provides consultations and treatment for patients. If we identify someone who has been exposed to TB, we provide them with preventive treatment. Healthcare for TB patients in Qatar is free of charge and those affected can usually return to work within two to three 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 through education and accurate information about how it can be acquired.
There is still much to be done to raise public awareness of TB both, in Qatar and internationally. The more we educate people about risk factors and prevention, the greater the chance we have to eliminate it. I encourage the community and healthcare professionals to attend our World TB Day events this year to learn about the condition and ways we can fight to end it.’
For more information about CDC’s TB awareness activities, visit the HMC website at hamad.qa.