HAVANA – Cuba has a tuberculosis rate of just 6.2 cases in every 100,000 inhabitants, and seeks to become the first Latin American country to eliminate the disease entirely by applying a plan proposed by the World Health Organization, or WHO, for nations where the illness has a scant presence, official media reported Saturday.
The Caribbean country detects an average of around 600 cases of TB annually, which puts it “in a position to take up the challenge” proposed by the WHO in 2014, according to Lourdes Suarez, a director of the Public Health Ministry, or Minsap, as cited in a front-page article of the state daily Juventud Rebelde.
The coordinator of Minsap’s National Tuberculosis and Acute Respiratory Infections Program said that to achieve the total elimination of this illness, the island needs to “develop accelerated preventive procedures that will allow the disease to be eliminated up to the year 2035.”
To meet that challenge, the country plans to step up the “social mobility and community participation” in an active search for cases among “vulnerable groups” such as senior citizens and people who have or had contact with sick patients, and on whom tests will be performed and “preventive treatment” applied.
Suarez said that to achieved the goals set by the WHO, it is “essential” to improve the technology for a “rapid and opportune diagnosis” of tuberculosis at community polyclinics, because that will make it possible “to prescribe timely treatment and cut the chain of transmission as soon as possible.”
The specialist said the illness is highly contagious but that it can be diagnosed very early on and that it should not “compromise” the health of the Cuban people if they are “kept informed” and comply with the prevention and treatment procedures for which Cuba “must allocate the necessary resources.”
In observance this week of World Tuberculosis Day, the WHO asked that governments, communities, civil society and the private sector “unite to put an end” to this disease.
WHO figures show that in 2013 the incidence of tuberculosis in the region was 29 cases for every 100,000 inhabitants, but that ending the epidemic once and for all requires a rate of less than 10 cases in every 100,000 inhabitants.