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HIV, COVID, chronic non-communicable diseases pose challenge to TB fight - Health Minister

On March 24, Guyana joins the rest of the world in observing World Tuberculosis Day under the theme "Invest to END TB Save Lives."

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony in his statement emphasised that the world is running out of time to act on commitments to end Tuberculosis.

This year’s observance is geared at reminding global leaders that there is an urgent need to invest resources to accelerate the fight against Tuberculosis, he stated.

Locally, the cases of TB have declined with 500 active cases in Guyana; however, it remains a challenge.

The Health Minister said one of the critical challenges in TB control in Guyana is the HIV epidemic within the population.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony.

He said, "although strong collaboration between the TB and HIV programmes has led to a decline in TB/HIV co-infection rates, HIV remains one of the biggest concerns and underlying causes of TB morbidity and mortality."

Other challenges include the high prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high substance misuse among TB patients and the access to services by isolated hinterland communities. This problem was further compounded by the COVID 19 pandemic, which had disrupted medical services. “You know with the surge of COVID, we would see persons who would have had active TB also can get infected with COVID, and that can be a challenge in terms of how they’re managed”, the health minister explained. According to the Health Minister, despite the pandemic, the Ministry’s TB treatment and care sites remained open.

“So, we kept our doors open so that these patients can come to our clinics, be able to access service and what is very important in this case for them, to maintain their treatment regime,” Dr Anthony stated.

However, Dr Anthony said the ministry stands committed to implementing the UN Political Declaration on TB to work towards universal access to quality prevention, diagnosis, and treatment and care of Tuberculosis.

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