Remember the 'fire shot' aka the BCG (Bacillus Calmette–Guérin) vaccine administered in school?
Many of us would probably still carry the scar at the site of injection. It mainly protects young children against disseminated TB (disease in multiple parts of the body) and TB meningitis (disease in the fluid around the brain).
To our young generation, tuberculosis (TB) may be deemed a dreaded disease of the past. Yet until today, after thousands of years, in this era of antibiotics and medical advances, TB is still with us. It has in fact, claimed more lives in the history of mankind than any other infectious disease. There are some 8,000,000 new cases worldwide every year, with the largest number occurring in Asia.
Senior Staff Nurse Pushpa, a familiar figure at our TB Control Unit (TBCU) set up in 1958, shared that back in the early days, "TB patients had to go through a long wait and treatment period and it was very hard to keep track of their self-medication. Some were worried about the cost and would not turn up for their appointments. TBCU staff had to check on patients closely and call them up to arrange follow-up treatment or home visit. Now with shorter treatment periods and more financial assistance, patients are more motivated to complete the course."
With World TB Day on 24 March, a salute to all our pioneer and present day heroes for striving hard to keep all in Singapore TB-free!