Foundation urges steps to tackle growing threat from TB
Tuberculosis strikes about 86,000 Thais each year, kills at least 10 per cent of them - and is a growing menace.Dr Pornthep Siriwanarangsan, director-general of the Disease Control Department, said last week that the World Health Organisation ranks Thailand as one of the 22 worst-affected countries when it comes to TB.
Thailand now has an estimated 110,000 TB patients, which means that of every 100,000 people, 161 have contracted TB. About 9,800 people die of the disease annually.
TB remains a serious threat due to the influx of alien workers, the overcrowding of communities and the spread of Aids. The number of TB patients has been climbing with more deaths and more cases of drug resistance reported.
Dr Krasae Chanawongse, president of the Raks Thai Foundation, said the government has not yet allocated a clear budget for the healthcare of illegal alien workers, so it is hard to control the spread of TB among them.
The foundation is trying to improve access to information, screenings and treatment for the underprivileged including migrant workers. The foundation's work complements the department's efforts to eradicate TB. Thailand will need to move fast as the Asean Economic Community, which promises a free flow of labour, is coming very soon.
To mark World Tuberculosis Day this year, the foundation, the department and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria are launching the fourth "Stop TB Partnership Thailand" campaign. Held annually, the joint drive aims to educate the public about TB.
Since early detection of TB will allow timely treatment and lower the risk of patients infecting others, free health checks and health counselling will be offered to the public in front of the MBK shopping centre on Sunday. The activity also includes an educational exhibition on TB.
The department will try to raise awareness among TB patients of the absolute necessity to observe their treatment regimen, otherwise they may develop drug resistance.