In September 2018, Malaysia’s Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad declared Malaysia’s commitment to end tuberculosis (TB) epidemic by year 2035.
He said this at the United Nations (UN) High-Level Meeting on the Fight Against Tuberculosis in New York.
Dr Dzulkefly was also quoted as saying that the burden of TB for Malaysia was still significant with notification rate of 81 per 100,000 population and mortality rate of 6.5 per 100,000 population for year 2017.
Here are 7 facts about the disease that you should know:
1. TB is caused by bacteria called ‘Mycobacterium tuberculosis’ and spread through the air by one person to another.
2.TB bacteria most commonly grows in the lung, however it can also infect other organs of the body including the brain, bones, kidneys and our skin.
3.Symptoms for us to look out for are: prolonged cough which is more than two weeks, coughing out blood, fever, sweating at night, loss of appetite, weight loss, chest pain especially during coughing or when taking deep breaths, fatigue and weakness.
4.If you or your family members manifest these symptoms, you are advised to seek immediate treatment at any government clinics or hospitals for a sputum (phlegm) test or undergo a chest x-ray.
5.TB treatment in Malaysia uses the Directly Observed Therapy, short course (DOTS), recognised by World Health Organization, which means patients would take TB prescriptions while being monitored by health professionals within a specified time frame.
6.The treatment is between six to eight months.
7.Patients can fully recover if they follow the entire course of treatment.
8. Anyone can get TB, but certain people should be tested for TB infection because they are at higher risk for being infected with TB bacteria, including: People who have spent time with someone who has TB disease, people from a country where TB disease is common (most countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Russia), people who live or work in high-risk settings (for example: correctional facilities, long-term care facilities or nursing homes, and homeless shelters), health-care workers who care for patients at increased risk for TB disease, infants, children and adolescents exposed to adults who are at increased risk for latent tuberculosis infection or TB disease.
Sources: myHealth Portal, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
By Jenny Imanina Lanong Abdullah and Murni Nasri
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