Public urged to seek help quickly for TB and leprosy symptoms

Health Ministry Medical Development Division director Datuk Dr Azman Abu Bakar speaks at the launch of the Break Free From Hypothyroidism campaign at Capri by Fraser on Monday, May 22, 2017. SAMUEL ONG / THE STAR, 22ND MAY 2017.

KUANTAN: Those suffering from symptoms of tuberculosis and leprosy are encouraged to visit the nearest clinic quickly, as early detection can aid in the recovery process.

Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Azman Abu Bakar said early detection and treatment of the diseases was key to control its spread in the community.

“I take this opportunity to plead with all individuals who suffer from symptoms of tuberculosis, such as prolonged cough for more than two weeks, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, weight loss and bloody cough to go to the nearest clinic as soon as possible,” said Dr Azman.

“Leprosy can cause a person to be disabled if not treated, and if there are symptoms of spots on the skin and numbness, it must be checked by a doctor to make sure it is not leprosy.”

He was representing Health Minister Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam during the launch of the World Tuberculosis and Leprosy Day 2018 on the national level at Dewan Semai Bakti at Felda Bukit Goh here.

It was themed “Towards a Malaysia Free from Tuberculosis and Leprosy: Early Detection Ensures Recovery”.

“Those who have begun treatment for the diseases must finish the treatment which may take at least six months for tuberculosis, and six to 18 months for leprosy depending on the type,” said Azman.

He added that tuberculosis was a contagious disease which spreads through the air and when someone who is infected coughs, those in close contact of the infected individual are at risk of getting infected.

Dr Azman pointed out that the number of tuberculosis cases in the country had also risen by 8% from 24,220 cases in 2015 to 26,168 cases in 2017 and the number of deaths because of tuberculosis had increased from 5.5 to 6.8 per population of 100,000 during the same period.

“The increased number of cases is following early detection and screening activities,” he said.

“But the number of deaths is quite worrying and parties involved in programmes controlling the spread of tuberculosis must give it due attention,” he said, adding that under the National Strategic Plan for TB Control (2016-2020), the nation is targeting to reduce the death rate of tuberculosis by 25% come 2020.

For leprosy, Azman said it is showing a downward trend in the country from 308 cases in 2014 and 210 cases in 2015 to 206 cases in 2016, but showed a slight increase to 214 cases in 2017.

“In line with the launch of World TB and Leprosy Day today, the ministry has framed an education strategy to create awareness of the diseases throughout the country by distributing posters and brochures to all health facilities in the nation.”

He added that the campaigns would continue and more training sessions would be held to increase the knowledge of health personnel and community representatives to detect the diseases.

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