March 24 is observed annually as World Tuberculosis Day. With over 1.7 million deaths caused by Tuberculosis each year, this day brings awareness to a global epidemic and reminds us that we must work collaboratively to eradicate Tuberculosis worldwide.
This reminder is manifested in this year’s theme “We simply must stop TB” which encourages all people- those affected as well as those who can provide help, whether as health professionals or members of a responsible civil society to make their own contributions in stopping TB.
Whilst Jamaica’s incidence rate is at an average of 100 per year and is considered a low prevalence country, we are still working persistently to educate the public and enhancing TB prevention and control.
Last year, the Ministry of Health and Environment launched the TB manual which will function as a management and training tool for health professionals working in TB prevention and control. Training is now taking place, and the manual has been launched in all four health regions. Additionally, and even more importantly we are now developing a national strategic plan with the first draft expected to be completed by April 2009. This draft will be reviewed in April at a meeting with several Latin American and Caribbean countries.
On World TB Day, I call on everyone to do their part in bringing attention to a devastating illness that must be stopped. Let us all remember the victims and families who have been affected by the disease and honour the nurses, doctors, and community workers who work unwaveringly every day in the fight against Tuberculosis.

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