Sexta, Março 01, 2024
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The Chief of the National Tuberculosis Program in the Ministry of Health, Costantino Lopes said 40% of the 5370 individuals screened through community household screenings in 2022 were found to be positive for the tuberculosis bacteria.

The Chief of the National Tuberculosis Program in the Ministry of Health, Costantino Lopes said 40% of the 5370 individuals screened through community household screenings in 2022 were found to be positive for the tuberculosis bacteria.

He added in 2022 the program’s strategy was to undertake active screening with its 6 partner organisations from civil society by going home to home in community and to health facilities across the country, to identify positive cases for tuberculosis so they could be placed under treatment to stop the chain of transmission of the tuberculosis bacteria.

“We decided on this strategy because of our experience in the past. If we only wait for cases to come through the health facilities and when people are sick, we will only detect small numbers. So, we adopted this strategy of going to find cases in the community and 40% of all new cases were detected through community screenings. This means our community when sick is still not coming to the health centres. They just ignore the symptoms until their condition is serious. Only then they will come to a health facility,” he said, in Colmera, Dili.

He said most new cases were detected in the municipalities of Ermera, Dili, Likisa, Covalima, Manufahi. And that some cases were so serious that there was nothing more they could do to treat and save them.

Out of the 5370 individuals screened, 2581 were positive for tuberculosis and have since been submitted for treatment while their family members are also being screened.

“Our strategy for these 2581 individuals is to also screen the entire family. Those who do not have symptoms, we will give preventative medicines because they are household contacts so they are likely to be infected already with the tuberculosis bacteria. We give preventative medicines to kill the bacteria before it develops into tuberculosis,” he said.

He highlighted a 91% success rate in treatments for all tuberculosis patients.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Klibur Domin Foundation, Joaquim Soares said the efforts to stop the transmission rates of tuberculosis in 2022 through active community screenings are paying off because they were able to detect many new cases.

He added in 2022 they were able to detect 600 cases in the municipalities of Viqueque, Likisa, Ataúro and Baucau and that all positive cases are now undertaking treatment including for their families.

“Our efforts against tuberculosis in Timor-Leste in 2022 were a success. We hope this year, in 2023, we will continue our efforts and be even more successful in being able to detect anyone else who may have tuberculosis so we can dispense treatment. And so that we can eliminate tuberculosis as per the government’s timeline of tuberculosis elimination by 2025,” he hopes.

He also informed the biggest challenge for their staff is that some communities are closing their doors when they go and do household screenings. Another challenge is that the population still believes in traditional medicines over modern treatments. He suggested more education is needed to socialise the tuberculosis illness to the community so they can also contribute to its elimination in Timor-Leste.