The Ministry of Health joined the global community on March 24th, 2017 to observe World Tuberculosis (TB) Day.
This year’s theme was “Unite to End TB”. The focus was to increase awareness of the TB national response among patients and healthcare providers in order to strengthen active surveillance of TB to improve diagnosis and treatment in Belize.
This year, health regions across the country hosted various public information sessions including TB talks, ‘Morning Show’ appearances and booth displays to share information. In Corozal, A booth display was done at La Escuela Secundaria Technico Junior High School in San Roman to share and interact on TB information with students and teachers of that target area.
The National TB Program of the Ministry of Health continues to improve on the delivery of services it provides to those affected. The Ministry has provided additional training to health care personnel and laboratory staff in new methods for diagnosing TB during 2016. Treatment guidelines have been revised in order to improve and standardize treatment and care at the primary level in all districts. The Ministry reiterates that persons diagnosed can access medication and other services free of cost at public clinics. The Ministry has also strengthened its support network, focusing on treatment supervision with the hiring of adherence counselors now stationed in the most affected areas across the country.
Tuberculosis continues to be one of the leading causes of death among HIV-positive persons in Belize. In 2015, TB was responsible for 35% of HIV deaths. In 2016, the Ministry of Health reported that there was a total of 120 new cases of Tuberculosis diagnosed. From the total number of new cases, 36 were diagnosed in HIV-positive persons. There were 23 deaths in 2016 accounting for 19.2% of all those diagnosed in that year. The age group of those affected is between the ages of 20-59, as seen in previous years.
The advancements of the National TB Program and the Ministry of Health are being carried out with support through a grant from Global Fund for 2016-2018.