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News Release For Immediate Release
March 15, 2012
Stop TB in My Lifetime
“Stop TB in my lifetime” is the child-centered theme this year for World TB Day, March 24. At least 200,000 children die of tuberculosis (TB) each year. In 2009, more than 10 million children were orphaned because a parent died of TB. This is hard for us to imagine here in Grey Bruce where the incidence of TB is very low, with an average of one active case a year.
Charuni (fictional) is a young girl who recently came to Grey Bruce with her family from Sudan. Her father had to report to Public Health because his pre-immigration chest x-ray was abnormal. Further investigation showed he did not have active TB but was exposed to TB in the past. This means there is a small chance that the TB could re-activate, making him infectious to others, especially his family. His doctor in Grey Bruce recommended he take a 9 month course of antibiotics to kill the inactive bacteria. Fortunately, a TB skin test showed that neither Charuni nor her little brother had been exposed to TB. Public Health receives several referrals every year from Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care for TB medical surveillance of new immigrants, refugees and visitors.
Children are more likely than adults to get TB disease if they are exposed to the bacteria. They are harder to treat because most TB medications are not available in liquid form, are hard to swallow and can cause side effects from nausea to hearing loss. About 8 per cent of children with TB have multi-drug resistant TB, which is even harder to treat.
More funding and research are needed. New tests for TB have recently come available but many countries, where TB is endemic, need assistance in purchasing and using them. Ten vaccines are in clinical trials. An effective vaccine providing long lasting protection against TB would be a huge breakthrough. However, the STOP TB Partnership headed by the World Health Organization, reports significant gaps in funding to meet their objectives. Individual donors, corporations and nations are all needed to help.
The five countries with the largest military budgets together spend a trillion dollars a year on defence. Just 0.3 per cent of that amount would be enough to fill the annual financial gap of the Global Plan to Stop TB 2011-2015, allowing millions of people to receive high quality TB treatment and to continue crucial research. TB is preventable and curable. Children deserve to grow up in a world free of TB.
Attachments: Tuberculosis Fact Sheet
For More Information:
Debby Minielly, Public Health Nurse,
Grey Bruce Health Unit
519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456, ext.1257
We work with the Grey Bruce community to protect and promote health