While the district in-charge Minister J. Krishna Palemar attempted to brush aside the prevalence of tuberculosis, officials and pamphlets at the World Tuberculosis Day function here told a different story.

While Mr. Palemar made light of the prevalence of the disease, District TB Control Officer Ramakrishna Rao said one person died of the disease in the country every 90 seconds. In the district, 29 cases had been detected in 2008-09, he said.

The literature supplied to the participants said that Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is the most common causative agent of tuberculosis, entered the bodies of 40,000 people every day, of which 5,000 contracted the disease. The disease claimed the lives of 1,000 people every day all over the world.

Elimination

India, in which a fifth of the world's TB patients live, is aiming at the complete elimination of the disease by 2050. A third of the world's TB patients lived in the country in 1960.

Rotaract Club of Mangalore City president B. Devadas Rai expressed apprehension over the country's ability to meet the target. He cited the failure to eliminate polio by 2005 in support of his argument.

The participants were asked to ensure that all children were given the BCG vaccine before they completed their first year, as a preventive measure.

The programme also highlighted that the disease was curable provided the whole course of treatment was completed.

Ignorance blamed

Udupi Staff Correspondent writes:

Udupi Zilla Panchayat chief executive officer D. Pranesh Rao attributed the prevalence of tuberculosis to ignorance and lack of attention to health problems among the people.

Addressing a gathering after inaugurating the district-level World Tuberculosis Day function organised by the Department of Health and Family Welfare at the Udupi College of Education here on Wednesday, Mr. Rao said that about 100 people contracted tuberculosis every month in the district. He also highlighted the importance of propagating proper information of the causes, symptoms and treatment among the people.

District Health and Family Welfare Officer Ramachandra Bairy explained that tuberculosis was of two types: pulmonary and extra-pulmonary. In addition to contracting bacteria by direct contact, heavy smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, malnourishment and a weak immune system could also lead to tuberculosis, he said.

Symptoms

He described some of the symptoms: high temperature in the evenings, lack of appetite, weight loss and chest pain. Tuberculosis was also common among people with heart disease and asthma.

He said that both pulmonary and extra-pulmonary tuberculosis were curable; all government hospitals provided free treatment for the disease, he said and urged anyone with the symptoms to undergo a detection test in a government hospital.

In-charge District Tuberculosis Prevention Officer Vishwanath B., District Information Officer M. Jhunjanna and Director of the Udupi College of Education A.M. Hebbar were present.

Awareness campaign

A skit to create public awareness about tuberculosis to mark World Tuberculosis Day was held here on Wednesday by the “Edde Arogya” team of the NGO Population Services International (PSI), with the support of the Suzlon Foundation.

A press release issued by the PSI stated that it had organised six street plays focussing on tuberculosis in Kaup, Padubidri, Hejamadi and Tenka villages in Udupi district on March 23.

The plays were performed by Tenka Yermal Yuvak Mandal.

The PSI works closely with the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme and is partnering with them for the World TB Day activities, the release added.