Tuberculosis (TB) incidence among Qataris is “very low” due to the strong infectious disease control programme in the country, a senior official at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has said.
“It is similar to the incidence in the western world,” Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, deputy chief medical officer and head of Infectious Diseases at HMC, told reporters on the sidelines of the opening of the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) yesterday.
Dr al-Khal, also the clinical lead of the new medical facility at Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City, said they usually screen all the contacts of TB patients to effectively prevent the spread of the disease.
CDC has a highly specialised medical team that provides consultations and treatment for patients who have infections that are beyond the scope of primary healthcare services and other secondary care services.
“If we find somebody who is exposed, we give them preventive treatment,” the senior HMC official pointed out.
In 2015, he noted that they screened some 3,400 people who are close contacts for TB and treated those who tested positive.
While the Center treats Qatar residents who have been diagnosed with this infectious disease, it is learnt that those with “latent (inactive) TB” also receives preventive treatment.
Dr al-Khal said they diagnose around 500 cases every year but these are mostly among expatriates, particularly labourers who come from countries with “high endemicity for TB”.
TB incidence among long-time expatriates and families in Qatar is also lower, he noted.
Apart from TB, the official said leprosy, HIV and other infectious disease cases are referred quickly from the Medical Commission or the Preventive Medicine Department, Primary Health Care, private health centres, oil and gas industry, and armed forces clinics, among others, to the CDC.
CDC is home to the National TB Control Programme and the state-of-the-art TB Laboratory, which provides all public and private health sectors with TB diagnostics and leadership on a national level.
“The new facility is not only Qatar’s first line of defence in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health in identifying, preventing and managing outbreaks and pandemics, but we also aim to establish it as a world-class research facility specialising in the field of transmissible diseases,” he stressed.
Dr Muna al-Maslamani, senior consultant of Infectious Diseases and deputy chairperson of Medicine, echoed the statements of Dr al-Khal, saying CDC provides services beyond the clinical setting in addition to its inpatient services and outpatient clinics.
“We provide a confidential counselling service and other social services to enable individuals and families to deal with the diagnosis and management of their conditions,” she added.
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