Posted on March 22, 2018

Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Communicable Disease Center (CDC) is taking the fight against tuberculosis (TB) into the community with a public education, awareness, and prevention event planned for Friday, 23 March between 3pm and 6pm at Lulu Hypermarket in Al Khor Mall. Members of the public will have an opportunity to learn how to identify and prevent the infectious disease, and clinical teams from HMC will offer free basic health checkups.

World TB Day, which is recognized on 24 March each year, is designed to build public awareness of tuberculosis. The disease remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing nearly 1.7 million deaths each year, mostly in developing countries. Tuberculosis, commonly referred to as TB, is a contagious infectious disease that usually attacks the lungs. It can also spread to other parts of the body, including the brain and spine. A type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes the disease. The disease is classified as latent TB or active TB, with signs and symptoms of active TB including a cough that lasts three or more weeks, coughing up blood, chest pain, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, and night sweats.

In recognition of World TB Day, the CDC will hold an event on 22 March at its facility in Hamad Medical City to acknowledge the occasion with staff and patients. Additionally, awareness events are planned from 8am to 12pm in the main lobbies of Hamad General Hospital, Rumailah Hospital, Al Khor Hospital, and Al Wakra Hospital. Hospital visitors will learn about TB, have the opportunity to receive a free basic health checkup, and receive educational leaflets highlighting the condition. A lecture for healthcare professionals focused on steps to eradicate the infectious disease will also be held 26 March from 7am to 8am in Hajar Auditorium in the Hamad Education Center.

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“Globally, more than two billion people are infected with TB. But as a disease, people should know that TB is both preventable and curable. In Qatar, we have a very low incidence of TB, which is the result of our infectious disease control program and education initiatives,” said Dr. Muna Al Maslamani, Medical Director of the CDC.

“In 2017, we screened 11,000 patients referred from HMC facilities, primary care centers, the Medical Commission, private hospitals, and Qatar Red Crescent. At the CDC, we have a highly specialized medical team that provides consultations and treatment for patients. If we identify someone who has been exposed to TB, we provide them with preventive treatment. Healthcare for TB patients in Qatar is free of charge and those affected can usually return to work within two to three weeks of starting treatment,” added Dr. Al Maslamani.

Dr. Al Maslamani said the key to fighting the spread of TB is to remove the stigma attached to the disease through providing education and accurate information about how it can be acquired. “There is still much to be done to raise public awareness of TB both, in Qatar and internationally. The more we educate people about risk factors and prevention, the greater the chance we have to eliminate it,” she said. “I encourage the community and healthcare professionals to attend our World TB Day events this year to learn about the condition and ways we can fight to end it,” said Dr. Al Maslamani.