Jumaat, Mei 18, 2012


Tuberculosis makes a comeback in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU May 18, 2012: The uncontrolled influx of illegal immigrants into Sabah has spawned a lethal infectious disease, once thought to have been almost eradicated.

Tuberculosis, more commonly known as TB, is killing people on a weekly basis in Sabah and the spread of the disease is being pinned on the immigrants who have been pouring over its borders for years.

According to the health authorities here, Sabah is the most afflicted state in the country with at least four people dying weekly from the dreaded disease.

That works out to about 200 deaths every year from the disease that was once thought to have been almost eradicated in Sabah.

The State Health Department said an average of 10 people are diagnosed with TB in Sabah every week and most of them are foreigners.

“Kota Kinabalu ranks the highest, followed by Tawau and Sandakan,” Sabah Health Department assistant director (TB/Leprosy), Dr Richard Avoi told a health care seminar here over the weekend.

The spread of TB, he said, is known to be closely associated with poverty, overcrowding, alcoholism, malnutrition and drug abuse.

“It spreads easily in overcrowded, poorly ventilated places and among people who are undernourished,” Dr Avoi said.

All Sabah’s major towns are fertile grounds for the disease. They all have a large population of poor, illegal immigrants from the southern Philippines and Indonesia living in shanty towns that have mushroomed in the state.

Infectious strain

What makes it worse, according to Dr Avoi, is that about 17% of the immigrant TB patients and about 3% of locals suffering from the disease do not complete their six-month treatment regimen leading to them being more drug-resistant and for the disease to keep resurfacing.

The BCG vaccine injection given to babies is no guarantee that one would not contract TB.

Other than pulmonary TB which infects the lungs, the other strains of the disease infect the bones, skin, lymph nodes and even the brain.

The authorities official confirmation of the increasing threat of the disease building to epidemic proportions has raised fears that certain areas such as the crowded wet markets, shopping complexes and cinemas that are popular meeting spots for the immigrant population, will become “no-go zones” soon.

Those frequenting these places are already vulnerable if they fail to take extra care, health officials have long warned.

The risk is high considering that TB, a contagious bacterial infection that involves the lungs, but can spread to other organs, can infect people of any age and once infected, the whole family and acquaintances in contact with the carrier is at risk.

“Being about three feet away from someone with TB can increase chances of getting pulmonary TB,” Dr Avoi told the seminar.

According to him, there would be a very high risk of getting TB if one is, for instance, inside a long-distance bus with someone with TB onboard.

This makes traveling by bus to the east coast towns like Tawau, Lahad Datu, Semporna and Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu, a journey of about eight hours, a risky business.

Curable disease

James Bagah, the president of Consumer Protection Association of Sabah (Caps) said the revelation is alarming.

“We advise people to avoid if possible places where they think they would be exposed to infectious diseases including the dreaded TB,” he said in an immediate reaction to the prevalence of the disease when contacted by FMT.

Bagah also said the authorities should increase TB awareness talks as many were not aware of the growing threat of the disease in the state.

“I am concerned as there seem to be more and more people coughing nowadays. You can see it for yourself everywhere … I hope its is just the weather and not something serious like TB,” he added.

While the “good news” about TB is that it is curable, the problem Sabah is facing is that its health care services are overwhelmed and border control is almost non-existent.

Luke Rintod


Free treatment to fight TB

11 ulasan:

  1. The immigration department should monitor strictly the health conditions of those who enter Sabah. But those who came from the back doors are more of a threat.

  2. People should try to avoid going to places where there are huge crowds as those are places where TB can spread easily.

    1. Pakailah mask di mana2 tempat awam. langkah untuk lebih berjaga2.

  3. With Sabah having the highest number of TB cases in the country, about 20 per cent of overall TB cases detected in the country, the entry of Zero TB World into the State is deemed as a timely one in order to complement the Government's efforts towards eradicating this disease.

  4. Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and the Sabah Health Department have forged a partnership with a Korean non-governmental organisation (NGO) to bring down the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) in the State.

  5. This first-ever collaboration between the Malaysian Government and a Korean NGO, Zero TB World South Korea, would see the establishment of a Tuberculosis Research Centre (TRC) within the campus, through its School of Medicine.

  6. The aim of this partnership is to reduce the mortality, morbidity and transmission of the disease until it is no longer a threat to public health (and) we will also strive to prevent the development of drug resistance which is a major obstacle in the control of TB.

  7. setiap kemasukan warga asing kena dipantau, pastikan mereka menjalani pemeriksaan kesihatan, jgn biarkan mereka bawa masuk penyakit.

  8. Selesaikan isu PATI di Sabah. Kita tidak mahu isu ini terus menghantui fikiran penduduk Sabah.

    1. tidak lama lagi tu.. lagi pun RCI sudah diumumkan oleh PM..

  9. ba senang sudah tu mau kesan PATI.. dimana ada TB disitu ada PATI..