World TB Day marked by conferences in Gaza City and Ramallah
Jerusalem -Today is World TB Day, a day which commemorates the discovery of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis and serves as a reminder that 1.6 million people die every year from the disease. TB remains to be the number one opportunistic infection affecting people living with HIV and AIDS.
The day will be marked in the occupied Palestinian territory by conferences for health professionals in Gaza City today and in Ramallah tomorrow with support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The day also coincides with the launch of the Palestinian TB programme of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The 2.12 million euro, five year programme aims to modernize the detection and treatment of tuberculosis in the Palestinian territory.
Veronique Maeva Fages, the manager of the Global Fund programme in the occupied Palestinian territory said that the new grant would help reduce the burden on families affected by TB.
“The Palestinian health system is quite efficient at dealing with TB but it has suffered because of political and economic difficulties in the last ten years and this grant will help it improve its response,” she said.
The World TB Day conferences are designed to remind doctors, health workers and the general public of the risk of TB and new developments in the spread of the disease and responses to it.
Every year there are 8.6 million new cases of TB but there has been an increasing number of cases which are resistant to treatment, particularly in the former Soviet Union and Asia where in some places up to one quarter of new cases reported were resistant to drugs. Treatment of patients with the new form of tuberculosis takes much longer and costs much more than standard treatment.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the occupied Palestinian territory currently has 788 TB patients, 491 in the West Bank and 297 in the Gaza Strip. Of these 36 are drug-resistant cases. TB thrives in overcrowded communities that receive inadequate nutrition and hygiene such as refugee camps or even Bedouin communities. Transmission of TB is reduced if patients are detected and treated rapidly.
The Global Fund’s grant, which is administered by the United Nations Development Programme and shared with the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Near East, is designed to raise the detection rate of cases of TB from 5 per cent to 70 per cent and improve the treatment of patients. Through the programme, GFTAM, UNDP will be also be contributing to the achievement of MDG goal number 6 addressing HIV and AIDS, Malaria and other associated diseases.
Dania Darwish, Communications Officer, Tel. +972-2-6268229 – e-mail: email@example.com, Conal Urquhart, External Relations
Ms.Veronique maeva Fages, UNDP Programme Manager for the Global Fund to fight HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), Tel. +972-2-6268283 – e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org