World TB Day is held each year on March 24th, in commemoration of the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB). This commemoration is designed to raise widespread awareness to the fact that even today, although preventable and curable, tuberculosis remains epidemic in much of the world. The disease causes nearly one and a half million deaths each year. Although most cases of TB are found in the developing countries, it is important to note that anyone, anywhere can get TB.
World TB Day is a time to recognize achievements in TB prevention and control, and to renew the commitment to ending this devastating disease. Once again, the theme for 2017 was “Unite to End TB”.
From March 22nd to March 26th, with funding from UK-AID (DFID), SMRU staff and patients, along with local key authority leaders participated in talks, games and a poem competition to raise TB awareness.
Activities were held at:
- Maw Kher Thai clinic
- Wang Pha clinic
- Wang Pha TB clinic
- KoKo TB clinic
- Maela Refugee Camp
- a local factory site (reaching migrant workers)
- as well as a public address in KoKo village, Kayin State, Myanmar
The theme “Unite to End TB” means that everyone should cooperate to achieve significant reductions in the burden of TB. However this year’s complete theme also includes “LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND”. This is SMRU’s goal with its model of residential care which provides complete care to patients - taking into account difficulties to reach health services and the catastrophic costs incurred to TB patients (household and familial burdens, loss of income and otherwise) that are linked to this disease. SMRU’s model allows for a consistent and stable team to build trust with patients throughout their treatment; specifically, to not only provide good quality medical care but also psychosocial care and complete patient support. This model has thus far resulted in high rates of treatment success for the most vulnerable and poor people living on the Thai-Myanmar border.
TB remains one of the top 10 causes of death in the world and is a significant burden for both Thailand and Myanmar as they both stand among the top 30 countries impacted by tuberculosis, co-infection with TB/HIV and drug resistant TB.
Since the beginning of the TB program in 2010, SMRU has enrolled more than 1400 TB patients (DSTB), including 270 patients with HIV Co Infection, and 84 patients with multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). More than 1000 patients have been fully treated. The average annual treatment success rate for all forms of TB (including new, relapse, and retreated) is around 82%, and 83% for MDR-TB patients.
In 2016, SMRU ensured case management for a total of 473 new and ongoing TB patients, including 90 patients co-infected with TB/HIV and 47 with MDR-TB. SMRU TB clinics have a capacity of 220 rooms, including isolation rooms for MDR-TB patients. On average, 80% of TB patients are treated in residential care - receiving food, medical care and social support while 20% of TB patients are followed in their homes under supervised DOT by our team of healthcare workers.
Text by Michele Vincenti-Delmas/Photos Courtesy © FilmAid Asia 2017