VIENTIANE, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Around 3,300 tuberculosis (TB) related deaths have been reported each year in Laos, according to the World Health Organization on Thursday.
In the Western Pacific Region, Laos still has a high TB burden and is one of the countries with the highest prevalence of TB, with an incidence of 182 per 100,000, and a death rate of 53 per 100,000. Every year, there are an estimated 3,300 TB related deaths, according to information released at a meeting to discuss media involvement for controlling TB held in Lao capital Vientiane.
The meeting, co-held by the National Tuberculosis Center of Lao Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), aims to disseminate TB information through mass media for the public to know and understand how to prevent and treat it.
In 2016, about 4,969 TB patients, or 40 percent of the TB patients in Laos received treatment. The treatment success rate was 90 percent. As many as 275 TB-HIV co-infected cases and 39 Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) cases were found, but 60 percent of the TB cases remain undetected. This is due to financial barriers to diagnosis, low health-seeking behaviors of populations in remote and rural areas and limited access to TB control services, for example chest X-rays and Gene Xpert, said Deputy Director of the National Tuberculosis Center, Dr Phouvang Vongvichit.
"Today, the health sector has improved TB control services, which are available nationwide from health centres to district, provincial and central hospitals. TB is curable if treated for six months for TB and nine months for MDR-TB. Most TB services, treatment and diagnoses are provided free-of-charge and are covered by health insurance schemes in Laos, Phouvang was quoted by Lao state-run news agency KPL as saying on Friday.
TB, the world's top infectious disease killer, claims 5,000 lives each day. The heaviest burden is carried by communities which already face socio-economic challenges including migrants, refugees, prisoners, ethnic minorities, miners and others working and living in risk-prone settings, and marginalized women, children and older people, the WHO said in a press release.
This year marks the 135th anniversary of the World TB Day (March 24, 1882) with a slogan to unite efforts to "Leave No One Behind", while one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 adopted by the United Nations in 2015 is to end the global TB epidemic.