Mon, Mar 25, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Legislators want program for tuberculosis treatment


Legislators called on the government yesterday not to neglect tuberculosis as it works on integrating its heath department.

"As the government works to integrate the Department of Health's thoracic cavity disease section with public hospitals, I am afraid that tuberculosis could be overlooked," DPP lawmaker Chien Chao-tung (簡肇棟) said.

To ensure that tuberculosis does not get sidelined in the midst of the government department's integration, Chien said that he would propose establishing a unit that concentrated on tuberculosis prevention to the Hygiene, Environment and Social Welfare Committee of the Legislative Yuan.

He said he would make the proposal "so we won't lack the proper facilities in the fight against tuberculosis."

Tuberculosis is an airborne bacterial infection (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that can be caught by being in close proximity to an infected person who coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms of the lung disease include a minor cough and mild fever in its initial stages and later symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, night sweats, coughing up blood and chest pains may appear.

According to Chien, who is a thoracic cavity physician, the incidence of tuberculosis in Taiwan is 63 out of every 100,000 people, and increasing.

Other than frequent contact with people with tuberculosis, the risk of contracting the disease increases if a person lives in crowded, unsanitary conditions. Infants, elderly and individuals who are immunocompromised, such as those with AIDS, are at higher risk for the disease.

Chien added that of the people who are infected with tuberculosis, 40 percent are patients who could, "infect 10 to 15 people every year."

Tuberculosis in Taiwan

* Sixty three out of 100,000 people are infected with the disease.

* Of the people who are infected with tuberculosis, 40 percent are patients who could infect 10 to 15 people every year.

* The Taiwan Tuberculosis Medical Association says roughly 1,500 people die of tuberculosis every year.

He mentioned that even former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who has a tuberculosis record, was suspected to have been infected for a second time during his recent check-up at the Veterans General Hospital.

Chien said that with the high incidence of the disease in Taiwan, the government should ensure that tuberculosis gets the proper attention.

So Jen (索任), chief executive of the Taiwan Tuberculosis Medical Association, added that roughly 1,500 people die of tuberculosis in Taiwan every year. "Such a death toll is five times higher than that caused by other kind of contagious diseases," he said.

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