Being called a “tuberculosis hotspot” isn’t the nicest compliment, but recognition for successful efforts made to deter the illness helps to make up for it.
The Guardian recently highlighted Peru’s efforts to control and treat tuberculosis (TB), the infectious disease that takes 1.8 million lives every year across the globe.
According to the publication, Peru has the highest incidence per capita of TB in the Americas. Though its annual reduction rate is 1.5% (slightly less than the global rate of 1.65%, set by the World Health Organisation), “Peru has some of the world’s highest cure rates for tuberculosis at 87% for all new cases and the extremely drug resistant strain (XDR-TB) at 66% in 2013” (The Guardian). The global reduction rate for XDR-TB is just 28%.
“Search, treat, prevent – that’s our approach,” Carmen Contreras, of US-based charity Partners in Health (PIH), tells the British daily. “We go to the patients’ houses and we find the best way on ensuring they don’t abandon the treatment.”
Contreras notes that an accurate and timely diagnosis is essential to treating the TB, a disease that WHO describes as burden mainly for “poor, vulnerable and marginalised” communities.
While there is always the risk that patients abandon treatment, PIH, who helps thousands of TB cases in Peru, has seen abandonment rates drop from 7-8% to an impressive 1%.
So while The Guardian calls pockets of Peru “hotspots” for TB, they aren’t shy in stating that the rest of the world should take note of how the country’s “consistent moral support” keeps patients on the road to recovery.
For more information about Partners in Health, visit their website here.