Over the last 10 years, there have been 39 cases of tuberculosis (TB) in Barbados, an average of four cases per year.
Health Minister John Boyce told participants in a workshop at the Accra Beach Hotel to mark World TB Day today, that Barbados??? TB disease burden was very low, with significant progress being made in the country???s response to the disease.
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,??? the Health Minister maintained.
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.??Mr. 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.
Recognising the public health importance of case detection and treatment to control infectious TB patients, he stated that the Ministry of Health had been training healthcare providers and allied healthcare professionals in various aspects of TB management.
While a 47 per cent decline in TB mortality had been observed globally since 1990, the Health Minister revealed 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.