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Sierra Leone News: Under-reporting and under-diagnosis… A major challenge to end TB

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday 18 September 2018 during the release of the latest Global Tuberculosis Report stated that Sierra Leone is not doing enough to end tuberculosis (TB). WHO says TB cases are falling too slowly to meet the targets set by WHO’s End TB Strategy. WHO further pointed out that the deadly disease, which infects the lungs and is transmitted through the air, remains one of the top 10 causes of worldwide deaths, and is the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent, above HIV/AIDS. “This is despite the fact that global efforts have averted an estimated 54 million TB deaths since 2000. It is unacceptable that millions lose their lives, and many more suffer daily from this preventable and curable disease,” said Dr. Teresa Kasaeva, WHO Global TB Programme Director. Dr. Kasaeva, said, “It is unacceptable that millions lose their lives, and many more suffer daily from this preventable and curable disease. We need to join forces to root out this disease that has a devastating social and economic impact on those who are ‘left behind’, whose human rights and dignity are limited, and those who struggle to access care”, she said, adding, “The time for action is now.” Sierra Leone is among the 30 countries in the world that carries a severe burden of tuberculosis. Fifteen of the countries with the highest TB infection rates are in Africa, WHO reports. TB is a poverty disease and the poor and vulnerable suffer the most. Adult men and women in their most productive years are the most affected. The risk of active TB is also greater in persons suffering from other conditions that impair the immune system like HIV, malnutrition, pregnancy and diabetes. TB is often linked to stigma and discrimination, which can hinder timely diagnosis and completion of treatment regimes.
According to WHO Epidemiological Review of TB disease in Sierra Leone, in 2015:
*20,000 people fell ill with TB. 2,500 were children.
*3,200 (16%) died from the disease.
*480 people are estimated to have developed multi-drug-resistance to TB.
*1 in 4 HIV deaths were due to TB.
With an estimated prevalence of 574 cases per 100,000 population and new smear-positive cases of 247 per 100,000 population, the burden of TB is increasing in Sierra Leone.
WHO data published in 2014 indicate tuberculosis deaths in Sierra Leone reached 8,131 or 8.62% of total deaths. Sierra Leone recorded an estimated 20,000 new TB cases and 3, 300 TB-related deaths in 2015, according to the Global Tuberculosis Report. WHO says drug-resistant TB remains a public health crisis, with more than 500,000 believed to have contracted TB resistant to rifampicin, the most effective frontline drug. WHO concluded that under-reporting and under-diagnosis are mentioned as major challenges in the fight against TB, the most urgent stumbling block is funding.


By Sylvia Villa

Wednesday September 19, 2018.

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