TB cases on the rise
Sarawak Tribune - Thursday, 4 April, 2002

KANOWIT - Sarawak reg­istered an increase in the number of tuberculosis cases last year with 1,885 people having the diseases, up 119 cases from the pre­vious year.

"Of the total, 121 people had died from the disease," Minister for Environment and Public Health Datuk William Mawan disclosed at the State-level World Tuberculosis Day at the Community Hall here yesterday.

The number of cases for 2000 was 1,766.  The other figures were 1,676 (1991), 1,721(1992), 1,654(1993), 1,618(1994), 1,603(1995), 1,726 (1996), 1,712(1997), 1,684(1998), 1,771 (1999).

Mawan added that 61 per cent of the cases in the State involved males and the racial breakdown of the patients were Iban (44.8 percent), Malay (17.7 per­cent), Chinese (13.6 per­cent), Bidayuh (6.7 per­cent), Melanau (6 percent) and other native groups (7.9 percent). Foreign nationals in the State made up 2.6 percent of the total cases last year.

"And what was alarm­ing was that 70 percent of the patients were from the rural areas." he said.

Of the total number of patients last year, 41 per­cent of them were below 45 years old and another 35 percent were aged 60 and above, Mawan said, adding that 1,670 of the 1,885 cases last year were Pulmonary TB and 45 percent of them were tested positive with sputum smear.

The Minister also said Kanowit District recorded the most TB cases last year with 56 cases at the ratio of 189 per 100,000 people and was considered the highest in the State.

Other districts with the ratio of 100 per 100,000 people were Oya/Dalat (178), Saratok (153), Mukah (142), Bintangor (139), Sarikei (132), Matu/Darn (118), Sri Aman (117), Lubok Antu (115), Kapit (113) and Ba­ram with 105 cases.

On the number of patients who had recovered from the disease, Mawan said the percentage was very high at an average of 90 percent. There were only four TB patients who were also HIV positive.

Mawan said with the development in the medical field and the better health facilities provided by the government, TB was no longer a dreaded disease like in the early 1960s when the number of people killed by the disease was very high.

TB patients could now recover six months after treatment, Mawan said, adding that the government was serious in reduc­ing the number of TB cases in the State.

He advised the people to practise a healthy lifestyle and ensure that their living environment was clean.

He also called on corporate bodies, social and professional organisations to participate in activities organised by the Anti Tuberculosis Association of Sarawak (ATAS) in order to wipe out the disease.

Among those present were the Assistant Minister for Rural and Land Development Datuk Gramong Juna, Director of Sarawak Health Department Dr Yao Sik Chi and his deputy Dr Andrew Kiyu.