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Thailand in worst 14 for tuberculosis

BANGKOK: The government and health advocates are struggling to deal with tuberculosis as Thailand still has a high global ranking among TB-plagued countries.

By Bangkok Post

Wednesday 10 April 2019, 09:18AM

A man looks at an exhibit in a fair to campaign against tuberculosis at the Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok last year. Photo: Bangkok Post

A man looks at an exhibit in a fair to campaign against tuberculosis at the Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok last year. Photo: Bangkok Post

We are one of the 14 worst countries hit by this severely infectious disease which has spread across 200 countries,” Arth Nana, executive committee chairman of the Anti-TB Association of Thailand, said on Tuesday (Apr 9).

We must improve the situation in order to do away with TB by 2021,” he insisted, referring to a goal put in place by the Disease Control Department.

In 2017, the department set its five-year plan to control the disease and reduce the number of patients.

But two years in, its goals remain far from complete. In Bangkok alone, new TB cases are on the rise, attributed to the influx of migrant workers, the most vulnerable group.

The number of foreign workers who were registered for treatment increased from 853 in 2017 to 1,123 last year.

It is expected there will be up to 13,000 new patients, including those seeking repeat treatment.

Dr Wongwat Lewlak, deputy chief of City Hall’s Health Department, blamed hectic and stressful lifestyles in the crowded city for making people neglect their health.

The need to earn a living means many patients are too busy to remember those [appointments with doctors] or they decide to stop taking the drugs as soon as they start to feel better,” said Dr Wongwat.

The hospitals say they cannot provide sufficient treatment.

State-run hospitals are overloaded with so much work that they cannot adopt a mentoring system, under which medical staff work as mentors to ensure patients strictly follow their instructions,” Dr Wongwat said.

TB treatment demands patients comply with such medical guidance and meet doctors regularly.

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Patients need to take their medicine for six consecutive months. Failure to follow the practice will cause the disease to re-emerge and the patients will develop a resistance to the drugs.

The high number of drug-resistant cases was among the factors that put Thailand in the pool of 14 worst-hit countries for TB ranked by the World Health Organisation.

The WHO aims to reduce the number of TB patients to fewer than 10 in 100,000 by 2035.

In Thailand, according to the WHO’s estimate, the ratio was 156:100,000 last year. The number of new patients and those who are drug resistant is expected to be over 100,000 a year.

Tuberculosis is spread when a person with active TB disease in their lungs coughs or sneezes and someone else inhales the expelled droplets, which contain TB bacteria.

Although TB is spread in a similar way to a cold or the flu, it isn’t as contagious. One would have to spend prolonged periods (several hours) in close contact with an infected person to catch the infection.

In most healthy people, the immune system is able to destroy the bacteria that cause TB. But in some cases, the bacteria infect the body but don’t cause any symptoms (latent TB), or the infection begins to cause symptoms within weeks, months or even years (active TB). A quarter of the world’s population is infected with latent TB.

Common symptoms of the active infection include a lack of appetite and weight loss, a high temperature (fever), night sweats, extreme tiredness and a persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks and usually brings up phlegm.

In 2017, there were 1.3 million TB-related deaths worldwide.


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Kurt | 12 April 2019 - 12:15:29

Thailand is a very rich country. The wealth is only not spread among all Thai. Yes, Pom Prawit is very rich.  Old poster? No, Not old. Where is that 'thinking' coming from?  What infrastructure D talks about? About the absence of ability, skills, infrastructure, to deal properly with TB? Blaming foreign workers for the rise of TB? Are they checked on TB before getting a working permit?

DeKaaskopp | 12 April 2019 - 10:45:39

"Another case of prove about the lethargic way things work in rich Thailand" Rich Thailand? Since when is Thailand a rich country.Is this coming from the same source saying "Prawit" is one of the 10 richest person in Asia? Probably that's why the old serial poster think Thailand should have a perfect infrastructure .And he should read the article again for a better understa...

BenPendejo | 10 April 2019 - 14:26:38

Probably also attributable to the increase in Chinese visitors. China is one of the most highly affected countries for TB, and Chinese people are constantly coughing and hacking in public without even trying to cover their mouths.  I find it infuriating...complete disease spreaders.  I actually make it a point to not walk near them...and whenever I hear or see a hack, I hold my breath.

Kurt | 10 April 2019 - 12:27:19

Another case of prove about the lethargic way things work in rich Thailand. Many words, many meetings, many reports, many orders, and at the end ,.... insufficient in handling it.  TIT. Hospitals can not provide sufficient treatments. The Minister of health should step down, and be replaced. He not give the right orders, or has no authority among his own staff to provide hospitals support.

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