Jamaica records decline in tuberculosis

Jamaica has experienced a decline in the cases of tuberculosis (TB) over the past five years.

Senior Medical Officer at the National Chest Hospital, Dr Terry Baker, said Jamaica has seen a steady decline in persons being treated for the disease.

Senior Medical Officer at the National Chest Hospital, Dr Terry Baker

“Over the years, we’ve seen an average of between 120 and 150 newly diagnosed persons with TB each year,” she said.

“However, over the past few years, it has been a little less so. We have averaged about 80 cases per year,” she added.

Dr Baker emphasised that this is not a time to become complacent, particularly because each person who is diagnosed with TB can potentially infect as many as 10 persons before they are diagnosed.

She was speaking against the background of World TB Day 2020, which is observed worldwide on March 24.

Image result for World TB Day 2020

Dr Baker further explained that World TB Day is an International Day that serves to heighten awareness about tuberculosis, which is still a major concern in many countries with respect to the level of severity of the illness and mortality (death) that is associated with the disease.

“The numbers are declining, but we still have a lot of work to do, including here in the Caribbean.”

— Dr Baker

According to Dr Baker, while Jamaica does not have a large number of cases when compared with other countries, persons are still being affected. She also pointed out that although the disease has been dormant for a while, it has become an area of concern.   

“It is with the emergence of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the late 1990s to early 2000s that we saw a resurgence of TB, so it remains dormant but is not gone. The numbers are declining, but we still have a lot of work to do, including here in the Caribbean,” she noted.

Persons with impaired immune systems, such as diabetics, seropositive and the malnourished, are at risk for TB as well as prisoners and the elderly.