World Tuberculosis Day or International TB Day aims to pay tribute to Dr Robert Koch’s discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes the disease, in the year 1882. The object of commemorating the day is to spread awareness about tuberculosis (TB) and eradicate the disease from the world. The theme of the day for this year is “Yes! We can end TB!” World TB Day is celebrated on 24th March of every year.
Let’s discuss World TB Day in some detail, along with some facts, risks and treatments for the disease.
World TB Day History & Significance Of The Day
World Tuberculosis Day or International TB Day aims to eradicate infectious diseases from the world. It actively spreads awareness about the disease that is believed to have had its roots on the earth for more than 3 million years. The objective behind the TB Day celebration is to prevent the disease from spreading further. Although developed countries have been able to eliminate it completely, the disease is still prevalent in third-world countries.
9 Startling Facts & Stats About TB
- Despite the disease having been eradicated from the first world countries, one-fourth of the world’s population is still infected by it.
- TB does not manifest itself every time. Hence, it remains undiagnosed and untreated among many infected people.
- Individuals with weak immune systems are at a higher risk of being affected by the disease. As a result, people infected with HIV are 20 times more likely to get infected by it.
- The programme started by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2014 seeks to restrict new cases of the disease by 80% and reduce the death count by 90% between 2015 and 2030.
- 10 million people had been affected by TB in 2020 alone. This includes men, women, and children.
- 1.5 million lost their lives to the disease in 2020, with TB being the thirteenth leading cause of death and an infectious disease second only to COVID-19.
- 30 countries recorded new cases of the disease in 2020, which accounts for 86% of the total population infected by it. The countries include India, China, Bangladesh, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, and South Africa.
- 66 million people were cured of the disease between 2000 and 2020. The success rate stood at 86% in 2019.
- The active cases are reducing at a rate of 2%, which is lower than the targeted rate of 4 to 5%.
5 Risks Among Women With Tuberculosis
On World TB Day, here are the risks that women infected with the disease are prone to:
1. Women Put Their Concerns In The Backburner
Women usually take double the time to seek medical help as compared to men. They prioritise family responsibilities over medical help for themselves or are sceptical about spending over their concerns, which is a common occurrence, especially in third-world countries.
2. Stigmas Attached To Women’s Health Concerns
As mentioned before, TB is often asymptomatic, implying the symptoms often do not manifest themselves. Even if they do, the stigmas associated with illness among women often prevent them from opting for treatment. The stigmas inhibit them from asking a family member from accompanying them for a doctor’s visit. Being diagnosed with TB has a separate set of stigmas associated with it.
Lack of education or sufficient education often acts as a barrier to women being aware of the extent of the seriousness of the symptoms that they are facing. They tend to again overlook their own needs to fulfil their families’ responsibilities and their duties as the primary caregiver of their children. In the meantime, their health condition gets aggravated due to the lack of necessary treatment.
A large section of the female population is prone to be infected with HIV, which compromises their immunity, making them far more susceptible to being infected with TB.
While the disease can be safely treated during pregnancy, women are at a high risk of passing on the infection to their growing foetus, causing premature birth, low birth weight, and increased side effects from the treatment. There is also an increased risk of death during pregnancy and at the time of delivery, specifically among women living with HIV. However, the baby will rarely be born with TB.
14 TB Symptoms In Women
Every woman affected with the TB infection does not experience the same symptoms. It varies greatly among them. Here are some possible symptoms that women can experience if they are infected by the disease.
- Low fever
- Coughing (without or without blood or mucus)
- Chest pain
- Pain with breathing or coughing
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Not feeling well in general
- Pain near the site of infection
Diagnosis & Treatment Of Pregnant Women Infected With Tuberculosis
The healthcare practitioner may recommend a tuberculin skin test, which is reliable to be taken during pregnancy. The TB blood test that may also be prescribed is also safe to be conducted during this time, although it might not be effective enough for diagnosing the infection among pregnant women. Only a TB expert may be able to decipher the implications of the test result. If the skin test comes back positive, other tests like chest radiographs may be recommended to treat tuberculosis in a pregnant woman.
Treatment For TB Among Pregnant Women
The treatment for latent TB infection can be delayed by 2 to 3 months during the post-partum stage, to prevent the administering of unnecessary medication. However, in cases where latent TB infection may develop into TB disease among pregnant women, especially when the patient has just been infected, treatment should not be delayed because she is pregnant. Despite the drugs crossing the placenta, there is no risk of the foetus experiencing harm because of it.
5 Tips On How To Prevent TB
1. Maintain Hygiene
TH infection spreads through the air by droplets that remain suspected when an infected individual sneezes or coughs. Hence, it is important to cover your mouth while sneezing and coughing and wash your hands immediately after, so you don’t get infected through the suspended air droplets.
2. Rest Enough
A compromised immune system makes you susceptible to getting infected by TB. And lack of sleep reduces your immunity, reducing your body’s natural ability to fight against infections. Catch up on 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day to boost your immunity.
3. Pay Attention On Your Fitness
Follow a strict fitness routine to improve your lung function, which in turn will boost your immunity yet again. Walk or cycle or do any similar moderate-intensity exercise for about 30 minutes every day or at least on most days of the week.
4. Eat Healthily
Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein sources to keep your immunity boosted at all times. Steer clear of bad lifestyle habits like smoking that compromise your immune system.
5. Manage Stress
Keep stress under control by indulging in at least 5 minutes of mee-time every day. Practice yoga and meditation if you can.
Tuberculosis isn’t a pandemic as it had been before. Although we have made progress in restricting the infection to a great extent, a lot still needs to be done to irritate it completely. More so because we haven’t made as much progress as per the targets set by WHO, emphasising that there’s much to be done before we start organising TB day celebrations. While getting vaccinated during our childhood is the first step towards protecting ourselves from getting infected, we need to follow the above lifestyle tips for protecting ourselves further from the disease. On World Tuberculosis Day, let’s take a pledge to do our bit to protect ourselves from the disease, as the first step towards helping the world become free of tuberculosis.
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