Dubai: As the UAE marked World Tuberculosis Day (March 24) with a week-long calendar of activities ending yesterday, it was time to take stock of the progress made in the early diagnosis of the communicable disease.

A number of activities were held to create awareness about the seriousness of tuberculosis, identify its symptoms and modes of transmission. The activities also aimed to highlight the ministry’s efforts in implementing the National Tuberculosis Control Programme by providing free health care to all TB patients, right from diagnosing the disease, through treatment and follow-up, to full recovery. Awareness and education efforts are part of the ministry’s ongoing, integrated year-long plan.

The ministry’s activities included a scientific symposium, which was held to brief the programme staff on the latest developments in tuberculosis control, exchange expertise, and discuss challenges and areas of improvement. The symposium hosted a renowned foreign expert in tuberculosis control, as well as a number of local experts and university professors.

Hussain Abdul Rahman Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for Health Clinics and Centers, said the UAE government’s pilot phase of a smart system for tuberculosis diagnosis launched in November last year had made considerable headway.

“This new system helps reduce government expenditures, which are allocated for medical and therapeutic facilities, as well as medical teams and diagnostic devices. Also, this system fosters the UAE’s efforts in exploiting advanced technologies and Artificial Intelligence to develop innovative services contributing to the promotion of individuals’ lives,” he said.

Dr Nada Al Marzouqi, director of the Preventive Medicine Department, pointed to the participation of the UAE in the Eastern Mediterranean regional strategy from 2016 to 2020, to eradicate tuberculosis in the region.

Dr Fathila Mohammad Sharif, director of the Health Education and Promotion Department, dwelt on the awareness activities organised by medical districts across the emirates.