(MENAFN - Arab News) The Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), launched a year-long national campaign against tuberculosis yesterday.
Ziad Al-Memish, undersecretary to the Ministry of Health for Public Health, said the national campaign is being launched to mark World Tuberculosis Day, which took place on March 24.
"Stop TB in My Lifetime" is a two-year campaign, which aims to rally civil society organizations, health-care providers and affected people to raise awareness about the disease and collaborate to take preventive measures.
Al-Memish explained that the objective of the campaign is to raise awareness about the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and preventive measures to be taken against the disease. In addition, the organizers strive to educate patients and their families on how to deal with TB.
The undersecretary underlined the fact that the ministry has been able to maintain a low incidence of the disease in the Kingdom due to concerted efforts to educate citizens and disseminate information regarding the disease.
There were 3,872 recorded TB cases in the Kingdom in 2011 and 1,366 of these cases involved non-Saudis.
Al-Memish pointed out that the number was a dramatic decline from previous years, adding that the Tuberculosis Control National Program had enhanced its services, registering a 74.9 percent success rate in treatment during 2009. The program has also contributed in reducing the incidence rates of the disease to 1 percent, as well as drug-resistance incidents to less than 0.5 percent.
He revealed that the Health Ministry supervises the program through regular field visits and highlighted that the e-reporting program was recently developed to electronically register cases across the Kingdom and facilitate cooperation between the different departments.
Naila Abu Jedai, director of respiratory diseases in the Ministry of Health, said the private sector could play an important role in this national campaign. "We are targeting public and private institutions as we seek the cooperation of everyone in this mission to combat the threats posed by this disease," she said.
Explaining the measures taken by the ministry to combat disease, Abu Jedai said the government has been following standards set out by the WHO.
"We have advised mothers to vaccinate their newborns against the disease," she said, pointing out that people should follow basic principles of personal hygiene to combat the infectious disease, as well as follow general guidelines for healthy living, such as living in properly ventilated shelters, receiving regular exposure to sunlight, hand-washing and eating nutritious food.
World TB Day is an opportunity to raise awareness about tuberculosis worldwide and the status of TB prevention and control efforts. It is also an opportunity to mobilize political and social commitment for further progress.
Progress toward global targets for a reduction in TB cases and deaths in recent years has been impressive. TB mortality has fallen over 40 percent worldwide since 1990 and incidence is declining. New TB tools, such as rapid diagnostics, are helping transform response to the disease.