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Ministry of Health steps up its campaign on tuberculosis cure and prevention

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Contact: Julita Peter

Monday, March 24, 2003 – Supervision and screening of high-risk groups is a new component expected to be introduced to the 2003 work program of the National Tuberculosis Committee. In his address on the occasion of World Tuberculosis Day, which was observed on Monday 24 March, 2003 Health Minister, Honourable Damian Greaves, said that his ministry remains committed to providing improved quality health care to all St. Lucians.

Reports from the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health indicate that progress in tuberculosis control accelerated slightly from 1997 to 2000. Although progress was below par in 2001 and 2002, there were increases in the number of diagnosed tuberculosis patients.

According to the Health Minister, “if we are to reach the global targets of 70% case detection and 85% cure rates for those detected by 2005 in order to halve TB prevalence and deaths by 2010, then dramatic increases in case detection and complete treatment will be needed.”

Notwithstanding the high cost associated with tuberculosis treatment, Minister Greaves indicated that government will continue to provide free treatment to TB patients throughout the duration of their therapy. In 2002 twenty-three cases were diagnosed and treated. Of the persons on treatment 17% have been cured and a further 33% have completed treatment.

The Ministry of Health is planning to increase the impact of its activities by extending a “Stop TB Campaign” beyond World Tuberculosis Day to the rest of the year. One of the objectives of the campaign is to educate the general public on the symptoms and treatment of TB.

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