The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP), organized an event in celebration of World Tuberculosis Day, under the slogan ‘We need leaders to create a world free from Tuberculosis.’ The event was held to create awareness about the seriousness of Tuberculosis, to identify its symptoms and ways of transmission. It aimed to highlight the ministry's efforts in implementing the National Tuberculosis Control Program by providing free health care to all TB patients, right from diagnosing the disease, through treatment and follow-up, to full recovery. Awareness and education efforts are part of the ministry’s ongoing, integrated year-long plan.
His Excellency Hussein Abdel Rahman Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for Health Clinics and Centers, said World TB Day is an opportunity to raise public awareness about the health, social and economic impact of the Tuberculosis epidemic and to intensify efforts to end this global epidemic.
He also referred to the ministry's strategy to combat TB and its cooperation and coordination with the World Health Organization, through the development of the health system, in order to protect the UAE community from communicable diseases and to effectively reduce Tuberculosis in the country.
Focused activities to control the disease began over 40 years ago, with a view to reducing the number of infected, detecting the illness early and increasing the survival rate.
Dr. Nada Al Marzouqi, Director of Preventive Medicine Department pointed to the participation of the UAE in the Eastern Mediterranean regional strategy from 2016 to 2020, to eradicate Tuberculosis in the region. The Ministry has implemented in collaboration with the health authorities and its strategic partners several preventive strategies and programs to reduce and control the spread of the disease, such as standardization of surveillance methods, standardization of treatment systems, provision of Tuberculosis drugs on a regular basis, giving preventive vaccination to children at birth, and the program of early TB testing as a medical check-up for job applicants in the country.
Dr. Fathila Mohammed Sharif, MOHAP’s Director of Health Education and Promotion Department, noted that the agenda as part of World TB Day until 31 March 2018 includes community initiatives in commercial centers, preventive medicine centers and primary health care centers. Health workers participating in these events will answer the public’s queries about the disease and distribute information material.
She added that the activities also include a contest called ‘Light your house in Red.’ The aim of this interactive competition is to display the community’s solidarity with TB patients and to garner support in the fight against the disease. Participants will have to upload a picture of their home in Red, with the hashtag #International_Day_to_Combat_Tuberculosis, in addition to posting words of encouragement for people affected by the disease. These contestants will then be shortlisted, and the first three winners announced, for the best picture.
The National Program for Tuberculosis Control, in cooperation with the Institute of Public Health at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the UAE University, also held a technical symposium on Wednesday (March 21, 2018) on the latest global developments in combatting and controlling tuberculosis, attended by doctors, experts and academic staff from the university and other leading international universities as well as professionals from the whole country.
Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 10.4 million TB-infected people worldwide, and 1.8 million deaths due to the disease, in 2016. TB can affect anyone, and the whole body including the lungs, can be infected. The risk of exposure to TB increases due to factors such as malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation, as well as tobacco use, alcohol and diabetes.