Alarm as Tuberculosis cases shoot in Jonglei

Alarm as Tuberculosis cases shoot in Jonglei
Bor Hospital signpost (photo credit: courtesy)

Tuberculosis was the second leading killer disease in the world after Covid-19, in 2019.

​Officials from Jonglei State have sounded alarm over the swelling number of tuberculosis (TB) cases in the state.

Health officials said over 600 cases have so far been reported in just three health facilities in the state.

Most affected are Bor Hospital, Akobo PACC, and Duk PACC, said state health officials.

“There is a challenge because the funds allocated to TB are not enough. It can only procure the drugs, but there is no budget for awareness campaigns,” Ajak Mach, the director of the TB program in the State Ministry of Health, said.

Tuberculosis (TB) is an airborne disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body, such as the kidney, spine, and brain. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick.

Tuberculosis is a treatable disease if it is detected early and patients follow their doctor’s instructions. “When we are doing treatment for TB, there are special drugs for two months, and then you are given them for four months. If you take the drugs,” said Ajak.

Ajak said the high number of infections could be attributed to patients defaulting on their doses, resulting in re-infection.

“I have faced many since I started my treatment in terms of drugs,” she said Awel, a TB patient.

Awel, 28, was diagnosed with the disease a year ago but did not start treatment earlier due to some personal challenges.

“I was diagnosed with TB in November 2021. I am taking my drugs, and I think I feel better now compared to previous times,” Awel added.

Dr. Lual Bol, a medical personnel at Bor Hospital, said about 70 cases have been recorded at the facility in the last six months.

Bol who was speaking during the commemoration of World TB Day on Friday said some patients often avoid taking the medicine due to the stigma.

Awel said after she contracted the airborne disease, her husband decided to divorce her.

Dr.  Bol said the disease is widely spreading in Jonglei State due to a lack of awareness, as most people do not know how to prevent it.

“TB is an endemic—new cases are constantly being found, and it is widely distributed, causing a lot of sickness and death in children and adults, particularly in people who are HIV positive,” Dr Bol said.

“It is a deadly disease. There is no other cure in the community, like herbal drugs that are being used by the community, and they believe it can be treated. People should come and seek treatment at the designated health facility,” Bol adds.

The common symptoms of TB include chest aches, feeling weak, weight loss, chills, fever, and night sweats. However, having all these symptoms does not mean one is positive unless confirmed by a medical doctor.

Dr, Bol said the practices of some cultures, such as communal eating of meals, but many people at high risk of contracting the disease.

“The living conditions of the community​​ty have significantly contributed to the exaggeration of health complications among the community, particularly when having no proper nutrition,” said Bol.

Tuberculosis is a serious condition that is transferred from one person to another via coughing, sneezing, or any other medium that can transfer infected droplets.

Tuberculosis is the 13th leading cause of death and the second leading infectious killer behind COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, over 1.6 million people died from TB in 2021, including 187,000 people with HIV worldwide.


Tuberculosis killed close two million people in the world in 2021