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Public urged to work together to fight against tuberculosis
     To echo with World Tuberculosis (TB) Day 2023, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (March 24) urged the public to work together to prevent TB infection by maintaining personal and environmental hygiene at all times.

     According to the CHP's latest statistics, there were 1 666 notifications of TB cases (provisional figure) from July to December 2022. Despite a marked and consistent decrease in the notification rate in Hong Kong over the past few decades, TB is still an important infectious disease around the globe. Locally, there are still around 4 000 new TB cases reported yearly, with about 200 TB-related deaths (half of them being persons aged 80 or above). A cautious approach on prevention work needs to be maintained.

     The World Health Organization has designated March 24 of each year as World TB Day to encourage global efforts to combat TB together. "Besides disseminating TB-related information on the Internet and social media platforms, the CHP will also work with the Hong Kong Tuberculosis, Chest and Heart Diseases Association and the Hospital Authority to organise a series of health education talks. By doing this, we can remind the public about the importance of staying vigilant as well as early diagnosis and treatment of TB. Likewise, preventive measures against TB have to be reinforced in order to achieve the goal of eliminating the disease," a CHP spokesman said.

     Early identification of TB cases and prompt initiation of anti-TB treatment remain the mainstay of TB control. Chest clinics under the CHP provide TB patients with free outpatient consultations and treatment. The spokesman reminded the public that the treatment of TB involves a prescription of multiple medications which normally lasts for six months, and TB patients should stringently comply with the treatment regimen to minimise the emergence of drug-resistant TB.

     TB is an airborne disease. When a TB patient coughs or sneezes, small droplets containing the tubercle bacilli are generated and spread in the air. If another person breathes in these small airborne droplets, he or she may be infected. Prolonged exposure, however, is usually the prerequisite for the disease to be effectively transmitted. Members of the public should maintain continued vigilance against TB and adopt a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, avoid smoking and alcohol, and get suitable exercise and adequate rest. If symptoms develop, such as a persistent cough, blood in sputum, weight loss, fever and night sweating, they should seek prompt medical advice. If diagnosed as having TB, the patient should strengthen their respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, and receive TB treatment under a doctor's advice.

     For more TB-related information, services and figures, the public may also visit the CHP's page on World TB Day (www.info.gov.hk/tb_chest/en/worldtbday.htm) and the website of the Tuberculosis and Chest Service (www.info.gov.hk/tb_chest), or call the telephone hotline (2572 6024). 
Ends/Friday, March 24, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:30
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