Jakarta, July 22, 2020 (ANTARA) - Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelagic nation, with over 17 thousand islands and a population of some 267 million, is currently not only battling COVID-19 but also other ailments, including dengue fever and tuberculosis (TB).
Indonesia is ranked third for the incidence of TB globally. Some 165
thousand Indonesians succumbed to tuberculosis in 2017 and some 98
thousand people in 2018.
"I need to remind you that Indonesia is listed as the world's
third-largest TB-burdened nations in terms of the number of sufferers
after India and China," the head of state pointed out while chairing a
limited cabinet meeting on the Acceleration of Tuberculosis Elimination
at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, on July 21, 2020.
Furthermore, the high number of TB cases in the country are observed
among people of the productive age group of between 15 and 55 years.
The president has reminded his ranks of Indonesia’s target to become free of tuberculosis by 2030.
In the path to achieving the target, the government remains committed to
fighting TB in an integrated manner by involving several ministries and
Houses that are not properly ventilated and fail to receive adequate
sunlight, especially those in an overpopulated area, are among the
factors triggering people-to-people transmission. Hence, not only the
Health Ministry but also the Social Affairs Ministry and Public Works
and Public Housing Ministry must partake in this TB prevention endeavor.
To this end, the government will ensure the availability of medications
for the treatment of TB.
The government is also intensifying the tracking of TB patients since
out of 845 thousand people infected with this disease, only 562 thousand
have been identified, thereby translating to the fact that some 33
percent are not registered.
Hence, the president threw his weight behind the simultaneous handling of TB and COVID-19.
"We already had a model for COVID-19 (handling), notably, by
aggressively tracing those infected. We might use this COVID-19
(handling model) to also trace (those suffering from) tuberculosis," he
TB is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria, and it most
often affects the lungs. TB is spread through air when people suffering
from lung TB cough, sneeze, or spit. A person can contract TB by merely
inhaling a few germs.
Both the TB infection and disease are curable through the administration
of antibiotics. An estimated 58 million lives were saved through TB
diagnosis and treatment during the period between 2000 and 2018
According to WHO’s data, 10 million people fall ill with TB annually
across the world. In 2018, an estimated 10 million people fell ill with
TB worldwide: 5.7 million men, 3.2 million women, and 1.1 million
In spite of being a preventable and curable disease, 1.5 million people
die from TB each year globally – making it the world’s top infectious
killer. TB is one of the top 10 causes of death and the leading cause
from a single infectious agent, above HIV/AIDS. TB is the leading cause
of death among people with HIV and also a major contributor to
Most people, who fall ill with TB, live in low- and middle-income
countries, but TB is found all over the world. About half of all people
with TB can be found in eight countries: Bangladesh, China, India,
Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa.
Earlier, the Health Ministry’s Director for Communicable Disease
Prevention and Control, Dr Wiendra Waworuntu, stated that despite the
medicine for TB being available at various healthcare centers, mortality
rate due to the disease remains high in Indonesia, at 13 people per
“Some 10 thousand public health centers (Puskesmas) and hospitals are ready with the medicine to cure TB," she pointed out.
Waworuntu attributed the high mortality rate in the country to the
presence of drug-resistant TB. The ministry has projected some 24
thousand drug-resistant TB cases and 21 thousand TB-HIV coinfection
"They died not due to HIV but tuberculosis," she remarked.
In fact, the WHO has designated Indonesia as a high-burden nation for TB, Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB), and TB/HIV.
During the 2020 commemoration of World TB Day, March 24, Dr Tedros
Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, noted in a news release
that COVID-19 highlights just how vulnerable people, with lung diseases
and weakened immune systems, can be.
“The world remains committed to ending TB by 2030 and improving
prevention is the key to making this happen,” Ghebreyesus stated.
As the world comes together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is
important to ensure that essential health services and operations are
continued to protect the lives of people with TB and other diseases or
Health services, including the national program to combat TB, should be
actively engaged in ensuring an effective and rapid response to COVID-19
while ensuring that TB services are maintained.