To mark the World TB Day on Saturday (March 24), the Disease Control Department and the Suvarnabhumi International Airport on Wednesday jointly launched a campaign to create public awareness of the prevalence of the disease and to prove TB screening to public transport drivers.
Disease Control Department director-general Dr Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai admitted that tuberculosis remains a health threat for Thailand, with about 120,000 new cases each year and about 12,000 fatalities annually.
Of these, there are about 4,700 cases of drug resistance TB.
He disclosed that the Ministry of Public Health had set a national strategy for 2017-2021, with a target to reduce TB cases by 12.5 percent per annum or 171 cases per a population of 100,000 to 88 cases within 2021 in cooperation with both public and private sectors and communities.
The ultimate aim, said Dr Suwanchai, is to make Thailand free of tuberculosis within 2035.
To control the disease from spreading to members of the public, he noted that it was important to look for and identify the patients among the high risk groups such as prison inmates, foreign migrant workers, public transport drivers, slum dwellers and elderly people.
He said that passengers of public transport such as buses, vans and taxies are vulnerable to contracting tuberculosis if the drivers are infected.
The activities staged Wednesday under the campaign theme: “Drivers with clean lungs, free from TB” included free lung X-ray services for public transport drivers, BMI and blood pressure checks. About 1,000 people were given lung X-ray screening.
Dr Suwanchai said TB is curable, the sooner the better and it will reduce the chance of the disease spreading to the other people.
Early symptoms include coughing for more than two weeks, low fever in the afternoon, weight loss and loss of appetite. Anyone found to have such symptoms should be taken to the nearest hospital for examination and treatment.
According to the World Health Organisation, the theme for the World TB Day 2018 is “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world”.
Despite significant progress over the last decades, TB continues to be the top infectious killer worldwide, claiming over 4,500 lives a day. The emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) poses a major health security threat and could risk gains made in the fight against TB, the WHO said.