Mr Speaker, 24th March, 2014 has been declared World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, and it is com- memorated to climax worldwide year long educational campaigns to educate the public on Tuberculosis and to put it back on the priority agenda list of governments, policy makers and stakeholders.
In Ghana, it was celebrated under the theme: “Reaching the missed TB cases: The untold story of the Ghanaian TB patient.”
In the 1900s, TB was the greatest killer in the Gold Coast (killing half of its victims: 50 per cent mortality) and still remains a silent killer today. About seven per cent mortality.
From 1929-30, Acting Governor T. S. Thomas, O.B.E., for the first time ever, invested in TB control by approving a budget of £29,550 to build a half block for TB patients in Gold Coast Hospital, the present day Korle-Bu Teaching Hos- pital. This followed several unsuccessful attempts to secure funding during the tenure of Sir Gordon Guggisberg.
The many missed TB cases are esti- mated to be twice the 4,000 projected by World Health Organisation (WHO), and are currently to be found among the vulnerable populations, children, women, persons living with HIV and in the prisons. A recent study undertaken by the Nation- al Tuberculosis Programme (NTP) has revealed that there are a lot more missed TB cases among the elderly males in the general population.
There is no doubt that the nation has made progress in TB control.
The quality of care for TB patients has improved year on year. The country now boasts of a TB treatment success above the global target of 86 per cent. seven out of 10 regions achieved their treatment success
targets. Among other successes are:
An enviable system of ensuring support to patients and those affect- ed and families to achieve cure, is widely acknowledged in the country and beyond.
TB commodities by way of TB medicines, diagnostics and reagents are current, state of the art and the country has not experienced stock out for many years.
The programme has acquired new technologies to help detect some of the cases that are normally missed, using older technologies.
Stakeholders' involvement in TB care and control has been compli- mentary and impressive.
The country is positioning herself to reach out to find the missed TB cases using digital x-ray imagery. This is almost ready and waiting for the final approval from the Ministry of Finance.
Infrastructure to diagnose and man- age multi-drug resistance TB has been developed.
A system for managing childhood TB is in place.
The true burden of TB in the country will be declared with all certainty by the end of the year. However, initial analysis points to a much higher burden than pre- viously thought.
Though the burden is high, the trend shows that the TB epidemic can be halted and reversed. The highest TB prevalences occur in the older age groups and less in the economic productive age group.
The implication for more than twice the TB prevalences (disease burden) is an indication that double the resources
needed for TB care and control would be needed from now on.
Therefore, the threat to gains made since post-independence is at an all-time high risk of retrogressing. The reason is that today, with our status as a lower in- come middle country, there are significant cut backs on resources to control TB.
Let us all therefore, join hands to mo- bilise and call for zero TB deaths, zero TB infections and zero TB suffering.
Tuberculosis elimination. Yes, we can.