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TB Still Major Public Health Problem: HK Health Chief

Tuberculosis (TB) is still a major public health problem around the world and the general public should build up their bodily resistance, York Chow, Hong Kong's secretary for health, welfare and food, said in Hong Kong Saturday.


Addressing a ceremony marking the World TB Day, Chow said there are about 8 million new cases in the world, among which some 2 millions are fatal cases. In Hong Kong, the annual reported cases remain at 6,000 in recent years.


The city has adopted Directly Observed Treatment (DOT) for TB patients in the past few decades, according to him. DOT requires patients to take every dose of the medication under the direct observation of healthcare staff.


Echoing Chow's remarks, Director of Health, Dr Lam Ping-yan said Hong Kong's TB notification rate was 10 times higher than that of Western developed countries.


As the incubation period of TB can be several weeks to several decades, Dr Lam said a set of long-term and effective preventive measures is essential to the fight against the disease.


In addition to the use of DOT, Lam said contact tracing and detection of new TB cases are important preventive measures being taken by the Department of Health.


As a preventive measure, the department has also provided medicines to patients' family members who are infected to minimize the chance of onset of the disease.


Lam said the department has all along been maintaining close contact with the World Health Organization and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease in the fight against the disease which is a worldwide problem.


"The collaboration of all sectors of the community is essentialin the fight against the disease," he noted.


The ceremony was organized by the Hong Kong Tuberculosis, Chest and Heart Diseases Association, the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority.


(Xinhua News Agency March 21, 2005)

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