Over the past ten years, there have been 39 cases of tuberculosis in Barbados, an average of four cases per year.
Speaking on World TB Day, Minister of Health John Boyce noted that the prevelance of the disease was currently very low and that significant progress had been made in terms of the country’s response to TB.
However, he warned that this could change if aspects of the TB control programme faltered.
“As long as TB remains a major public health problem of global proportions, we must remain vigilant,” Boyce warned.
Such vigilance, he said, involved disease surveillance and aggressive management of cases to prevent onward transmission. He added that with the coming on stream of the Barbados Reference Laboratory, now under construction, the island’s laboratory capacity would be augmented to conduct advanced TB diagnostics.
This service, he disclosed, would be offered not only to Barbadians but to service providers in other countries in the region as well.
Boyce noted that Barbados had a comprehensive national TB prevention and control programme, which comprised key elements from primary health care, laboratory services, the HIV programme and tertiary care.
Recognizing the public health importance of case detection and treatment to control infectious TB patients, he stated that the Ministry of Health had been training health care providers and allied health care professionals in various aspects of TB management.
While a 47 per cent decline in TB mortality had been observed globally since 1990, the Minister of Health noted that in 2014, 1.5 million people died from the disease, and TB was now ranked alongside HIV as a leading cause of death worldwide.
TB is spread through the air from one person to another. TB germs are passed through the air when someone who is sick with the disease of the lungs or throat coughs, speaks, laughs, sings, or sneezes. Anyone near the sick person with TB can breathe TB germs into their lungs.