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Mar 28, 2002

Health authorities target tuberculosis

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Today is World Tuberculosis Day, and it brings into focus a country like Belize where the high rate of TB is of growing concern. Since 1995 we’ve had an average of ninety to one hundred cases per year, mostly in adults over fifty years old, with malnutrition, chronic respiratory conditions or HIV. According to the Deputy Director of Health Services, Dr. Jorge Polanco, our high infection rate is directly related to population density.

Dr. Jorge Polanco, Deputy Dir. of Health Services

“This disease is transmitted through what we call from person to person, through the aerosol, the air that the person would maybe sneeze or cough or he would just speak. That aerosol that would come out from his lungs would be inhaled by another person, and that air, contains very microscopic droplets that contain the organism. If a person inhales that organism and if his condition and status is such that he would not be able to resist the attack of this organism, that person would develop the disease. That’s how it’s transmitted, but the contributing factors are for example overcrowding, which is very common, overcrowding in homes. Many persons would may share one room with three or four or five persons or maybe share more than one room, but the house itself is built in such as way that there is no ventilation.”

The Ministry of Health this morning launched a manual of prevention and control procedures to be used by all health care professionals in treating tuberculosis.

Dr. Jorge Polanco

“It’s basically introducing a change in the treatment. For example traditionally we used to use three drugs to fight tuberculosis; we have added one more. We are perhaps the last country in this sub-region to institute this four drug therapy. And the reason why we included it is because we do not want to take any chance to allow resistance to the organisms in Belize. Other areas, other islands, and even in Central America and South America, there is evidence of resistance to the three conventional drugs we have move up to four. Another change is that instead of being an eight month therapy, it will only be a six months.”

If you’re experiencing a fever, losing weight or passing blood in your mucus, you’re advised to check with year nearest health care provider.

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