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Handling Tuberculosis in HaitiTim King Salem-News.com
There are roughly 30,000 new cases of tuberculosis each year in Haiti.
(PORT-AU-PRINCE / SALEM) - Haiti has the highest tuberculosis (TB) rate in the Americas, and health experts say that number may rise. Since last month’s earthquake, TB patients that have had their treatment disrupted could now become more infectious -- many are now living in the camps.
Health officials are scrambling to get those infected back into treatment and finding newly infected patients as fast as they can.
Dr Megan Coffee works with infectious disease.
“We are standing outside a tuberculosis tent. It’s very important with all these people who are not living in their normal homes, either living in tents or moving to different cities that they have continuity in their treatment and that patients who have new TB infections found are treated. There’s a great risk if there is any disruption in this that they can either become infectious or they could develop resistance if they take different amount of their medication, they miss weeks, they take some at some other times. So it is important to have the infrastructure built up.”
Outside Port-au-Prince General Hospital, dozens of international and Haitian doctors are busy treating patients in tents alongside international volunteers.
Dr Coffee says treatment is a priority.
“We are really having all these patients connected in order to get the treatment they need. It’s not that there is a new rise of cases after the earthquake. It’s more that it’s a very prevalent disease here and it’s something that should always have attention placed on it. That there are enough people with tuberculosis that we should make sure that we always continue to have as a priority to treat them.”
There are roughly 30,000 new cases of tuberculosis each year in Haiti. The World Health Organization says that it is the country’s second most common killer behind AIDS.
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