Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the major public health concerns worldwide. In 2020, it was the 13th leading cause of death and the second leading infectious killer after coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), above HIV/AIDS.
In 2020 a total of 1.5 million people died from TB, while about 10 million people are estimated to have suffered from the disease: 5.6 million men, 3.3 million women, and 1.1 million children. In Uganda, 200,000 out of 1,000,000 people suffer from TB annually.
TB is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria spreads through the air from person to person and mainly attacks the lungs, but it can affect other areas of the body.
Juliet Lubambula, a public health inspector from Kampala Capital City Authority, during a media interview, stated that early detection of TB is the key to cure.
“TB is treatable and curable with early detection. If you get any signs or symptoms, please go test,” said the KCCA health inspector.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the causes of this disease vary and include-; Poverty, HIV infection Homelessness, Substance abuse, taking medication that weakens the immune system, Kidney disease, diabetes, Organ transplants Air pollution, Cancer, Smoking tobacco Pregnancy Age, among others.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), TB can also be caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium Bovis, which lives in animals and can be transmitted to children who drink unpasteurized milk from infected cows.
Ms. Juliet stated that all citizens should go for testing even without having the symptoms as the bacteria might be in the body but has not yet grown.
Some of the signs and symptoms Ugandans are advised to look out for are: Coughing, Coughing up blood or phlegm, Chest pain, Trouble breathing, Loss of weight and appetite, Night sweats, Intermittent fever, Generalized body aches, and Fatigue.
The disease has been around for most of human history, becoming particularly deadly at times. In fact, researchers can trace tuberculosis back to early Egypt, more than 5,000 years ago. There is also mention of TB in the biblical books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus under the Hebrew word ‘schachepheth’ and Hippocrates describes it in his writings as “phthisis.”
Since the disease has been around for a long time, there are preventative measures that have been passed on throughout the years and these include-: having proper ventilation, opening windows, avoiding overcrowded places, staying outdoors, wearing masks, and staying away from tobacco amongst others.
Ms. Lubambula adds that vaccination of newly born babies and children under the ages of 5 against TB is another method used in the fight against the killer disease.
Ugandans are advised to take heed of the preventative measures, seek out signs and symptoms, and test and treat all TB-related cases.