Castries, St Lucia: The Minister for Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs Moses Jn Baptiste outlines the importance of World Tuberculosis Day, which is commemorated on March 24, every year across the globe. St Lucia is also observed the day under the theme for 2022- “Invest to End TB. Save Lives.”
While emphasizing upon the country’s efforts to made by the country in observance of World Tuberculosis Day, the Health Minister noted that the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization have classified St Lucia as a ‘Low burden Tuberculosis incidence country.”
He further described its meaning and stated that it is that annually the country has less than 10 cases of TB for every 100,000 persons in the population.
Baptiste said that this puts St Lucia in a very good position to aim for the elimination of TB in the country.
He further outlined the investment in the management of TB, which includes the following:
- Funding for fixed-dose combinations of TB medications for the treatment of pulmonary and extrapulmonary TB.
- Funding to improve the treatment of latent TB with the use of medication taken once a week for three months instead of a daily regimen of multiple pills for four to six months.
- For Maintenance of the gene expert technology donated through the global fund grant as well as continued procurement of testing categories.
- We are ensuring continued support for drug-resistant testing through the Caribbean public health agency cafe.
He further stated that eliminating or ending TB in St Lucia is not just about investment, but this also requires personal responsibility on the part of the patients and persons who are identified as contacts of pulmonary TB patients.
Health Minister also highlighted the treatment of TB and affirmed that it could be cured as it required patients to take the medication as prescribed and for the duration it is prescribed.
- Latent TB has no symptoms; if someone is identified as close contact with someone who has pulmonary TB, then they are at risk for latent TB.
- Just saying that they have no symptoms does not mean all is well; you must be assessed by a doctor who will send you for specific tests to determine whether you have latent TB.
- Once latent TB is cured, then you are not at risk for developing pulmonary TB later from that exposure.
- All testing and treatment for TB, latent TB, pulmonary TB and extra Pulmonary TB is free to the patient and is covered by the state as long as it is accessed through the available public services.
The elimination of TB in St Lucia required our commitment as patients to take all the medication, he added.