Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Health Ministry has urged citizens to become actively involved in campaigns for tuberculosis (TB) prevention to reduce the circulation of myths and stigma associated with the disease in society.

"By actively campaigning for TB prevention in their region, it can help to reduce myths and stigma circulating in society and through social media," head of the ministry's communication and information bureau, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, told ANTARA on Monday.

TB control can also be encouraged by increasing public awareness and concern so that people seek health services proactively, she said.

"The community can also support TB patients to access free examination and treatment services at community health centers and receive community assistance during the treatment period," she added.

Additionally, members of the general public can help carry out contact tracing activities to increase case detection and break the chain of TB transmission in the community, she said.

According to Tarmizi, the community can help by providing education on Clean and Healthy Living Behavior (PHBS) in schools, residential areas, and workplaces.

Here, PHBS would comprise avoiding smoking, eating healthy and nutritious food, undertaking exercise, washing hands with soap, and managing stress.

For TB prevention, people are also being advised to complete the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunization of children. The vaccine can be given to 2- or 3-month-old babies, she added.

People who have a family member with TB must remind the patient to take medicine on time and according to schedule. If anti-TB drugs are not taken correctly, drug resistance effects can appear, Tarmizi reminded.

The community can also share appropriate information regarding TB to help eliminate the stigma and myths associated with the disease in society. Further, if any family member shows symptoms of TB, others must go to the nearest health service for an examination, she said.

Educating families regarding TB symptoms and treatment is also important. The families of TB patients can help prepare healthy and nutritionally balanced food to meet the intake needs of the patients, she added.

Listening to patients' complaints is also vital. During treatment, patients tend to feel tired and want to give up. Therefore, listening to patients would encourage them to be more enthusiastic about finishing treatment, she explained.

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Translator: Erlangga Bregas P, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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