Tuberculosis (TB) is on the rise in Qatar, with 511 new cases having been reported last year.
A senior official of the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has attributed the increase to the high influx of foreign workers to the country.
“Most of the people who develop active TB here are likely to have been infected back in their home countries,” said Dr Abdullatif Al Khal, Head of the HMC Infectious Diseases Unit and National Tuberculosis Programme Manager.
While more TB cases have been reported among expatriates, it is on the decline among Qataris- From 48 cases in 2003 to 14 cases last year. This decrease is due to the national screening programme and implementation of preventative therapy for patients directly affected and people exposed to TB.
“We make sure patients who have TB, or those being given preventive therapy, undergo the directly observed treatment short-course. Patients are monitored closely and need to swallow pills in the presence of nurses to ensure the whole course of treatment is completed. This is an essential part of the national TB control programme,” said Al Khal.
HMC is developing an integrated Infectious Diseases Hospital at Hamad bin Khalifa Medical City, which will include the National TB Programme.
The elimination of tuberculosis (TB) by 2050 worldwide was the subject of a recent Academic Health System (AHS) Lecture held at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
The lecture was delivered by Qatar-based infectious diseases expert Dr Laith Abu-Raddad, Associate Professor of Public Health and Director of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Biomathematics Research Core, Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q). Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar is one of the eight members of the Academic Health System.
“Probably no infection has killed more people than TB over human history. It is a communicable disease with a long and complex history and has affected humankind for thousands of years. To eliminate TB, we need to address every aspect of the infection pathway with interventions to provide the highest impact in terms of TB control,” said Dr Abu-Raddad.
Recent international research collaborations have focused on addressing active TB as well as latent infection. Dr Abu-Raddad said the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar collaborated with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the US, the University of Washington and the World Health Organisation to conduct research on the impact of new approaches for TB interventions such as developing new vaccines, faster diagnosis rates, novel treatment regimens, and mass vaccination campaigns in endemic countries
Source : Qatar Chronicle
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