The national TB control programme will carry out TB (tuberculosis) screening at the Clock Tower Square in Thimphu from July 25 to 27 for early detection and treatment.

Early detection and treatment is expected to reduce the risk of poor treatment outcomes and transmission. The programme is also aimed at increasing awareness about TB.

Passive case finding, detection of TB cases among persons presenting to health facilities with symptoms suggestive of TB, has remained the principal approach for TB diagnosis in Bhutan, according to the health ministry.

“While this approach has led to substantial progress, there is persistent TB burden and case detection gap in the country,” according to a press release from the health ministry. This indicates that it is difficult to reach larger pool of population with TB and prompts for the pursuit of a more active approach to early TB detection. “Active TB screening systematically identifies people with suspected TB in a predetermined target group and performs tests, examinations of other procedures to detect TB early.”

According to the recent annual health bulletin, Bhutan registered 178 cases of TB per 100,000 population with 11 percent MDR TB (multidrug-resistant TB) cases amongst new cases and 18 percent amongst the old cases.

The bulletin states that the case detection gaps for MDR-TB continue to pose grave threat to public health in the country. Case detection gap for MDR-TB is estimated to be 28 percent.

Bhutan joined the global and regional community in taking forward the agenda of TB through post-2015 Global TB strategy to end TB by 2030. A need to adopt active case finding and consider systematic screening for active TB, therefore, has become a critical part in TB care and prevention.

Active case finding involving systematic screening for active TB means undertaking screening through outreach activities with health promotion activities outside the health facilities.

High-risk target population, including people with cough for two weeks or more and household contacts of TB patients are encouraged to come for the screening.

Dechen Tshomo