BELIZE CITY, Wed. Mar. 24, 2021– “The Clock is Ticking” is this year’s theme for World Tuberculosis (TB) Day. Each year, World TB Day is celebrated on March 24. This day serves as a reminder of the important milestone that was attained on March 24, 1882, when Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. This has opened pathways to diagnosing and successfully treating this disease.
Despite the advancement in TB medical studies, tuberculosis remains one of the world’s most fatal infectious diseases. It is estimated that every day nearly 4,000 lives are lost and 28,000 fall ill to this preventable disease. In the year 2020, Belize recorded 72 new cases of TB, four of which were cases of Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis, which affects organs other than the lungs. Men had a higher incidence rate, with a total of 48 males becoming infected with TB. The most affected age groups were between ages 15 and 54, with the most cases being in the Cayo, Belize and Stann Creek districts.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness is continuing its rollout of a TB reduction strategy. This includes the expansion of high-quality DOTS (directly observed treatment strategy), improvements in the methods used to detect and diagnose early cases of TB, providing standardized and supervised treatment of TB, maintaining an efficient supply and management of TB medications, education campaigns and the continuous training and re-training of all healthcare providers. The focused efforts to prevent and treat tuberculosis have been sidelined as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Ministry of Health and Wellness intends to continue these initiatives nonetheless.
A release from the Press Office of Belize states, “In commemoration of World TB Day, the media and public are encouraged to visit the Chest Clinic in Belize City today for an Appreciation Day activity.”