Abu Dhabi: Hospitals across the Abu Dhabi emirate are expected to follow new standards set by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) regarding diagnosing, managing and controlling the spread of tuberculosis (TB).

The HAAD has announced the implementation of Directly Observed Treatment (DOT) standards for TB control across the emirate in an effort to reduce by 50 per cent the prevalence of TB and deaths caused by the disease by 2015, and eliminate TB as a public health problem. The aim is to reduce it to less than one case per million of population by 2050 — as per objectives set by the UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organisation WHO.

Easily spread

TB is a contagious disease that spreads through the air. When infectious people cough, sneeze, talk or spit, they propel TB germs, known as bacilli, into the air. A person needs only to inhale a few of these to be infected. Symptoms include a chronic cough accompanied by blood, fever, night sweats and weight loss.

According to HAAD's 2010 statistics, 450 cases of pulmonary TB (disease affecting the lungs) and 175 cases of extra-pulmonary TB (affecting various organs in the body) were registered in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The global incidence of TB as per WHO 2009 reports, suggests that an estimated 1.7 million people died from it. The highest number of deaths was in Africa.

HAAD recently conducted various field visits and training workshops for health care facilities, accompanied by experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, USA, in efforts to train and update health care providers about advances in diagnosis and management of TB, as well as demonstrating the reporting process of TB patients under the new DOT programme.

Enhancing treatment

"TB is a challenging public health concern and we are aiming to enhance reporting and management of cases in the emirate. The treatment course for TB is around six months to one year, and a lot of patients don't complete the course of treatment," said Dr. Farida Al Hosani, Section Head of Communicable Diseases at the HAAD.

"The new system will enable us to follow up on the cases diagnosed with TB and make sure that they are taking their treatment.

"The workshop aims to improve the knowledge of health care professionals regarding case detection, management and follow up of TB patients in order to increase the cure rate and reduce the transmission possibilities of the disease in the community."

  • 450: pulmonary TB cases in Abu Dhabi in 2010
  • 175: extra-pulmonary cases in 2010 in the emirate
  • 1.7m:  WHO estimate of global TB deaths in 2009