Liberia Celebrates World TB Day With Optimism to Eliminate Disease

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Monrovia – The National Leprosy and TB Control Program (NLTCP) of the Ministry of Health of Liberia and partners will join the World on Saturday March 24, 2018 to commemorate this year’s World TB Day.

Globally, each year March 24 is commemorated as World TB Day to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of tuberculosis (TB) and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.

The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing, treating and curing this disease.

This year’s official observance will take place in the Airfield Community, Montserrado County, under the Global Theme: “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world”; with the National Theme: Leaders Make History. End TB. 

Speaking to journalists in Monrovia, Mr. Moses B. Zayee, Sr. acting head of NLTCP said the intend of both the global and national themes is placing focus on building commitment to end TB, not only at the political level with Heads of State and Ministers of Health, but at all levels from Mayors, Governors, parliamentarians and community leaders, to people affected with TB, civil society advocates, health workers, doctors or nurses, NGOs and other partners.

All can be leaders of efforts to end TB in their own work or terrain. 

According to him, these are critical themes, given the political importance of the upcoming UN General Assembly high-level meeting on TB this year, which will bring together Heads of State in New York. It follows on from a very successful Ministerial Conference on Ending TB in Moscow on 16-17 November, 2017 which resulted in high-level commitments from Ministers and other leaders from 120 countries to accelerate progress to end TB. 

In Liberia TB still remains a major priority to the government and its people. In 2015, the TB incidence was estimated at 308/100,000 population equivalent to 14,000 people by WHO country profiles. 

The case notification of 5,849 reflects the case detection rate of 41.8% leaving out many cases. The estimates are based on TB case notifications which are unlikely to be correct as there is evidence of under-reporting of primary defaulters and deaths, especially during the EVD crisis. 

The TB case notification improved by 24% in 2015; thus, placing the overall notification at 7,119 (56%) at the end of 2016. Liberia TB treatment success rate has increased from 68% in 2015 to 76% in 2016.

Similarly, the treatment success for retreatment cases was 53% in 2015 and 60% in 2016. The Program equally identified and enrolled nine Multi Drug Resistance Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) patients in 2015.

Now with the introduction of GeneXpert in the last quarter of 2015, 92 cases were diagnosed and enrolled in 2016.

Currently, NLTCP has developed detailed TB Infection Control Guidelines and costed plan which has been rolled out in five facilities that have consistently reported a high number of TB cases in Montserrado County.

There is an improved notification of DR-TB cases, effective early infant diagnosis (EID), and opportunity for integration of TB and HIV services. 

With support from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (TGF) through the Liberia Coordinating Mechanism (LCM), the NLTCP is optimistic of turnaround in the TB epidemic in Liberia.

To achieve this, the program made projections for the identification of 313 (100%) of estimated MDR-TB patients, this 2018; 347 (100%) in 2019 and 377 (100%) in 2020 from 92 in 2016. 

Increased treatment coverage was projected from 47 in 2016 to 162 (75%) of estimated MDR-TB patients in 2018, to 210 (75%) in 2019, and 225 (100%) in 2020. 

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