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Sabah ranks high on the list of tuberculosis cases

Published on 16 April 2018|
2 min read

Sabah has recorded some of the country’s highest numbers of tuberculosis cases.

by Stanley P, Carrybeans

It seems that in our state, tuberculosis is quite prevalent here.

In a news report, Sabah Tuberculosis Prevention Association (Sabata) Tawau advisor Peter Lu Yit Pin revealed that Sabah has recorded one of the highest numbers of tuberculosis in 2017 . “It is such a worrying matter. I hope all committee members and members could work together and lend our hands to enhance the cleanliness and the healthiness of our environment from time to time,” he said as reported in The Borneo Post.

Deadly, but curable

TB is caused by bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria mainly attacks our respiratory system, more specifically our lungs. The disease is highly contagious as it easily spread through the air whenever an infected person is talking, coughing, or sneezing. Fortunately, the bacteria does not spread through physical contact or by sharing foods or drinks.

Symptoms of the disease include prolonged coughing, weight loss, coughing up blood, and fatigue. The good news is that while the disease is fatal, it is absolutely curable. So, if you have any of the symptoms, it’s best if you go to the nearest hospital and run some tests.

In 2017, there were 26,168 recorded TB cases in Malaysia, an increase from 24,220 cases in 2015. About 4,000 cases from the 2017 statistics are from Sabah alone. In Tawau, there were 513 TB cases, an increase from 425 cases in 2016. Sabata Tawau is helping the community by providing transport allowance to poor TB patients for their periodical review and treatment.

WHO: Tuberculosis ninth leading cause of death globally

According to the World Health Organisation, TB is the world’s ninth leading cause of death. Surprisingly, it is the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent, ranking higher than HIV/AIDS. In fact, TB is the leading cause of death for people infected by HIV.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that 10.4 million people worldwide were reported to have TB in 2016. In the same year, there were 1.7 million TB-related deaths around the globe.

In order to build public awareness on this, the world celebrates World Tuberculosis Day, which falls on 24 March every year. It was first observed back in 1982 and has different themes. The theme for 2018 is “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world” and focuses on commitment from everyone in order to end TB.

Other prominent health issues in Sabah: thalassaemia and mental health

Unfortunately, TB isn’t the only prevalent health issue in Sabah. Our state has also recorded the highest number of cases for thalassaemia and mental health issues.

Thalassaemia is a heredity blood disorder where individuals suffer from abnormal haemoglobin production. Sadly, thalassaemia is so prevalent in Sabah that in 2016, the numbers of thalassaemia patients in the state rose to 17,000 compared to 15,759 in 2014.

So far, the most reliable treatment for it is blood transfusions. However, this comes with a side effect where the patients need medications for the high iron content due to the blood transfusions.

Meanwhile, a recent health survey by the Institute for Public Health (IPH) revealed that Sabah has the highest number of mental health issues in Malaysia. The survey showed that 42.9% of people in Sabah and WP Labuan have mental health issues. If you want to read the full story, click here.

It’s important to raise awareness about health issues

These statistics definitely show a need for increased awareness about health issues, and an improvement in our healthcare system. There’s no doubt that Sabah Health Department is working hard and doing its best. However, that doesn’t mean we as Sabahans should sit back and let them do all the work.

Sabah needs better awareness and health education, especially in the rural areas. If people are more aware of TB symptoms, they can seek diagnosis and treatment that much quicker. That goes for other health issues too — awareness and prevention are key.

Here’s wishing a healthier Sabah in the future!

Recently, Sabahan cyclists went on a bicycle ride to raise awareness on autism. Read all about it here.

Featured Image Credit: Kai Kalhh via Pixabay

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