Peru hopes to reduce tuberculosis cases ten-fold with new health facilities

A new health facility in Peru may reduce cases of tuberculosis in the country by 10 times, RPP radio station reported health minister Óscar Ugarte as saying.

Ugarte made the comments after opening the Center for Excellence for the Control and Prevention of Tuberculosis at a hospital in Lima’s impoverished San Juan de Miraflores district.

“With the treatment that we have been doing, we have been able to reduce (tuberculosis) by more or less 1,000 cases annually,” Ugarte said. “We hope to greatly increase this, we hope to reduce it by at least 10 times year-on-year. This is a multi-sector job.”

He added that even is health officials are successful in achieving early diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, they will still be hampered by the ever-present challenges of poverty that Peru has always faced. “There is overcrowding of housing, poor diets, that’s to say, conditions of poverty that can only be solved with employment programs, housing programs that are obviously outside of the health sector,” he said.

Ugarte said there are currently 18 health centers that specialize in diagnosing and treating tuberculosis. Nine of those centers are located in the capital Lima and the port city of Callao, where 60 percent of tuberculosis cases are reported in Peru.

The new health center in San Juan de Miraflores will serve residents from Lima’s southern districts, Ugarte said.

“This center is going to allow faster diagnosis’s, better quality, treatment in a separate environment that will guarantee that (tuberculosis) will not be spread to other people and ventilation technology that protects the workers at the hospital.”

According to the World Health Organization, about one-third of the global population is infected with tuberculosis, which is spread through the air.

The regions most affected by tuberculosis are south-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

In total, there were an estimated 1.3 million deaths from tuberculosis in 2008.

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