World Tuberculosis Day is observed every year on March 24 with an aim to educate people about the impact of TB across the globe and to initiate efforts to end the TB epidemic. Tuberculosis still remains the rising cause of mortality all over the world with one-and-a-half million people deaths each year, mostly in developing countries. Global efforts to fight deadly disease have saved an estimated 63 million lives since the year 2000. It remembers the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch surprised the scientific community by discovering the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus and opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this lethal infectious disease.
This year’s theme is ‘The Clock is Ticking’ which delivers the thought that the world is running out of time to act on the promises to end the devastating disease. With the COVID-19 pandemic still grappling the globe, this task had been very critical to achieve that has put End TB progress at risk and to assure rightful access to prevention and care in accordance with World Health Organisation’s drive towards accomplishing Universal Health Coverage. The Stop TB Partnership and WHO are sounding the alarm that while the entire world still focuses on COVID-19, statistics reveal that each day, around 4000 people lose their lives to TB and nearly 28000 people get infected with this preventable and curable disease.
On World TB Day, 2021, WHO is calling for actions on several heads to assure that the promises made to TB are achieved by adhering to the below recommendations:
All essential TB services should be continued during the COVID-19 Pandemic to ensure that efforts made in the battle against TB are not reversed. People should be made accessible to TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care services via digital platforms in tandem with the COVID-19 response.
Global efforts to address health inequities for people with TB and other diseases, which is essential to ensure health for all.
Organised screening should be implemented to help reach all people with TB prevention and care.
Eliminating TB needs intensive action by all sectors of the health care system to offer the right services, support and assuring a safe and healthy environment in the right place, at the right time. Each individual has a pivotal role to play in ending this lethal disease –individuals, communities, businesses, governments and societies.
Read through this article to get an insight about COVID-19 and TB facts.
- I have been diagnosed with active TB. Am I at risk of COVID-19?
TB does not make you more prone to fall ill with COVID-19. However, if you have been affected with pulmonary TB any damage to the lungs could make you more vulnerable to other infectious diseases such as COVID-19
- I have been diagnosed with latent TB. Am I at increased risk of COVID-19?
With latent TB you are supposed to be in good health condition, you are not likely to be at increased risk from COVID-19.
- I have been diagnosed with active TB. How do I know if I also have COVID-19?
If you are already diagnosed with TB you may be showing a range of signs and symptoms caused due to TB or side effects of medication. However, it could also be caused by other conditions including COVID-19. Hence it is important to let your health care provider know about your symptoms, particularly if they aggravate.
- I have been cured of TB. How does COVID-19 affect me?
If you are completely cured of TB and do not suffer any other comorbid health disorders then your risk from COVID-19 is more or less to be the same as for the general public.
- What are the differences between symptoms of COVID-19 and symptoms of TB?
Symptoms usually appear rapidly and disappear after 7 days.
Generally symptoms of TB show gradually over period of several weeks and continues if they are not treated.
- How can I safeguard myself?
For a person suffering from TB and COVID-19, there are many simple effective precautionary measures that they should follow to protect them.
Always use tissue papers while you cough and sneeze to cover your mouth and nose, discard the tissue and wash your hands or use a sanitizer.
Wash hands more often for 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially when you get home or go out for work, school or college or when you sneeze, cough, eat or handle food.
Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with dirty hands
Stay away from people who are unwell or sick.
If you are undergoing treatment for active TB, then it is more important to take all your medications as prescribed and continue follow-up with a health care provider to lower the risk.