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.