Tuberculosis danger: ministry launches awareness campaign about deadly disease

TB is the ninth-leading cause of death worldwide

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Health chiefs are ramping up efforts to highlight the danger of tuberculosis.

TB is the world's biggest infectious killer and is the ninth-leading cause of death across the globe, according to the World Health Organisation.

While rates of the disease are low in the UAE — roughly one in 100,000 people — authorities are trying to rid the country of TB entirely.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention is now raising awareness about how TB is transmitted, prevented and how to effectively treat it.

It is hoped that the three-month campaign will boost awareness about the UAE's national programme to combat the disease.

TB killed 1.3 million people in 2016, according to WHO. And an estimated 10.4 million people fell ill with the disease that year, with 56 per cent living in just five countries: India, Indonesia, China, the Philippines and Pakistan.

The campaign will run until November and starts before a meeting at the United Nations on September 26 where the global target of completely eliminating TB by 2050 will be discussed.

Events will take place at the Ajman Free Zone on October 2 and 3, Umm Al Quwain's Al Manama Hypermarket on October 17 and 18 and RAK Ceramics on November 11 and 12. Workers from the countries most affected will be targeted.

"Through the events launched by the Ministry of Health and Prevention, the community [will be] educated about the symptoms of TB and the importance of early detection," said Dr Nada Al Marzouki, director of the preventive medicine department at the ministry.

Meanwhile, expatriates need to be free of communicable diseases, such as HIV and TB, to obtain their first residence permit in the UAE.

Residents were once deported if they contracted TB but, after a change in the rules in 2016, they now must undergo screening for TB when renewing their visas.

Those found with scars, active TB or drug-resistant TB will be issued a residence visa only for a year and must undergo treatment here.

TB is a bacterial infection spread by coughs or sneezes of an infected person and mainly affects the lungs.

Symptoms include a persistent cough, unexplained weight loss, fever and night sweats.

TB can be fatal but with the right antibiotics it can be cured.


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