Brunei Darussalam has seen a decrease in tuberculosis (TB) infections from 55 cases per year for every 100,000 population in 2021 to 51 in 2022. This can be attributed to increased surveillance as well as accurate and fast detection of a patient’s close contacts.
Effective detection of close contact can prevent the spread of infection and death caused by TB.
This was shared by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar in a message to mark World TB Day that falls on March 24 every year.
The minister said World Health Organization (WHO) shows that TB causes 1.5 million deaths every year with a majority in developing countries.
WHO and Stop TB Partnership chose ‘Yes! We can end TB’ as the theme of this year’s World TB Day. It aims to raise awareness in the disease and the initiatives to end TB by year 2030.
The theme also aims to ensure access to up-to-date diagnostic and treatment using digital and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said TB is a communicable disease caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria that can spread through air.
TB’s symptoms include long-term coughing lasting over three weeks, night sweats, loss of appetite, weight loss and coughing up blood. The minister said anyone showing these symptoms needs to see a doctor immediately.
Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said delay in getting the treatment can cause serious complications leading to death. Patients receiving treatment must adhere to prescribed scheduled treatment or risk getting re-infection or develop drug-resistant TB, which is difficult to treat.
Among the strategies adopted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) with success is directly observed therapy shortcourse (DOTS) through BruHealth app, allowing close and detailed monitoring.
The minister said the Sultanate is fortunate to have very low cases of multi and extensively drug-resistant TB as well as infections among the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) population, which are huge challenges overseas.
Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said the MoH is committed to being proactive in keeping TB under control. The ministry has in place focussed strategies such as increased and improved TB surveillance system as well as awareness and screening programme.
The minister also called on patients’ family members, co-workers, employers and other stakeholders to make sure those receiving treatment fully recover.
He said commitment from all parties is required to end TB in the country.