Qatar plans to eliminate TB cases within eight years

March 28, 2011

Qatar, a country with a low rate of tuberculosis infections, is aiming to stop the spread of the disease among the citizens and residents within the next eight years, a senior infectious diseases expert has said.

“The World Health Organisation has developed a new six-point ‘Stop TB Strategy’ which builds on the successes of directly observed treatments short course (Dots) while also explicitly addressing the key challenges facing TB,” Abdul Latif Al Khal, National TB Programme manager, said.

“Its goal is to dramatically reduce the global burden of tuberculosis by 2015 by ensuring all TB patients, including for example, those co-infected with human immuno-deficiency virus and those with drug-resistant TB, benefit from universal access to high-quality diagnosis and patient-centred treatment,” he said, quoted by Qatari daily Gulf Times.

The strategy supports the development of new and effective tools to prevent, detect and treat TB, Al Khal told a press conference on the sidelines of a one-day symposium organised by the Hamad Medical Corporation to observe the World TB Day, marked this year under the slogan: “On the Move Against TB: Transforming the Fight Towards Elimination”.

Seeking to boost awareness about TB, the Supreme Council of Health will conduct an educational campaign targeting the population at the greatest risk for TB, mainly South East Asian workers employed by large companies and corporations, SCH Emergency Preparedness supervisor Dr Shazia Nadeem said.

“Our aim is to reach a state of TB elimination among nationals in the short run and among the stable expatriates in the long run and for this goal to be fulfilled, more efforts and research works are needed at the local, regional and international levels,” the official said.

This is the first time that Qatar and other countries are talking seriously about eliminating TB and not just controlling it.

“This puts TB on the list of diseases to be eliminated such as polio and measles. However, this will only be feasible if the world invests more resources and efforts in accelerated research addressing gaps in rapid diagnostic tests leading to early identification of cases, more effective medications and effective vaccines,” he said.

Until now, there are no effective vaccines to cure the disease which is silently affecting millions of people and killing about two million persons per year.

Al Khal said that the national TB programme has all the resources and necessary support to achieve the goal through its partnership with different stakeholders.

The official said that 580 new cases of TB were diagnosed last year, including 18 cases among Qataris.

“The majority of cases were among young adults aged 24-45 years while most cases, 324, were pulmonary type that affects the lungs and the remaining 256 were of the extra pulmonary affecting the lymph nodes, the brain and the bowel,” he said.

Prevalence of pulmonary TB infections among Qataris has reduced from 70 about six years ago to nine cases last year.

Al Khal added that four patients were found with the most difficult to cure version of the disease called multi-drug resistant TB, while only two deaths were due to the disease occurred last year.

“There were 1369 close TB contacts screened for TB infections, of which some 374 were found to have contracted the infection and were started on preventive therapy. In addition, 932 people who were found to have old TB infection also received preventive therapy,” he said.

The old TB infection cases were discovered through chest X-ray results from the Supreme Council of Health’s screening of workers in salon, barbers’ shops, food handlers as well as from the Medical Commission’s list of newcomers into the country, he said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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