We have to conduct contact investigation. Every closest contact of cases should be examined
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Head of the TB and SARI Work Team at the Health Ministry Tiffany Tiara Pakasi emphasized the importance of examining tuberculosis (TB) patients' close contacts as an early detection effort over possible infection.

"TB infects directly from sick people to healthy people around them. This is what we know as close contact," Pakasi stated during the "National Synergy to Expedite TB Elimination by 2030 in Indonesia" webinar, Monday.

"We have to conduct contact investigation. Every closest contact of cases should be examined," she stressed.

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If the investigation finds people that contracted TB after the close contact, then the next step involves medicating them until they recover, she stated.

"However, if they do not suffer from TB, then they would be observed further to see if they meet the condition to receive the tuberculosis prevention therapy (TPT)," she remarked.

"Essentially, there should be an engagement with health workers, so that they can be monitored and responded to according to need," she noted.

Based on the latest data from the 2022 Global Tuberculosis Report, Indonesia is currently placed second, in terms of the highest number of TB cases after India, she said.

Indonesia rose from the third place in the previous year, with an estimated 969 thousand cases and death toll of 144 thousand.

Unfortunately, the TB mitigation program that has been in place in nine months in 2022 only found 52 percent of new TB cases, she noted.

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To this end, the examination of close contacts plays a crucial role in finding TB and latent or asymptomatic TB patients, Pakasi stressed.

"However, there is still a gap. Maybe students can act as a volunteer or something and at least inform health facilities or assist the close contact," she remarked.

Meanwhile, the implementation of TPT is still far from matching expectations, thereby necessitating strengthening efforts. What is troubling is that this is more challenging as compared to medicating TB patients, according to Pakasi.

"Drinking anti-tuberculosis drug for those, who clearly suffer from TB, is already challenging for patients and health workers. Meanwhile, this drug is consumed by healthy people that is even more challenging," she remarked.

"There is a negative perception in ordering people to drink the drug despite them being healthy. Thus, education and dissemination on how this tuberculosis prevention therapy works should be undertaken," she emphasized.

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Translator: Suci Nurhaliza, Fadhli Ruhman
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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