Jakarta Globe (03.21.13)
On March 20, the US Agency for International Development’s Global Health Unit awarded Indonesia an achievement award for the country’s successful campaign in TB management and its success fighting TB in Southeast Asia. Dino Patti Djalal, Indonesia’s ambassador to the United States, received the award. According to Tjandra Yoga Aditama, director general of disease control and environmental health in Indonesia’s Ministry of Health, data from 1990 to 2010 show the country has decreased the incidence and prevalence of TB and deaths related to the disease. The incidence rate decreased from 343 per 100,000 people in 1990 to 189 per 100,000 people in 2010; TB deaths decreased by 71 percent from 92 deaths per 100,000 to 27 per 100,000. This means that Indonesia has met the target set by the Millennium Development Goals.
Tjandra noted that, although the country has made significant progress in reducing TB deaths, the disease remains a very serious health issue. He also stated that there are many new challenges, including the high rate of TB and HIV/AIDS coinfection and the increasing incidence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB). He explained that the government has been working on establishing new programs, including advancing treatment standards at hospitals and installing more GenExpert devices to detect TB and MDR TB quickly and accurately.
The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged that significantly fewer people are dying of TB in Southeast Asia compared with 1990. The TB death rate has decreased by more than 40 percent in the past 13 years due to greater public awareness, better case detection, and greater access to treatment. Samlee Plianbangchang, regional director of WHO for the Southeast Asia region, emphasized that eliminating TB is a social and public health responsibility. He noted that to successfully eliminate the disease, the country must pay attention to the underlying causes of transmission such as poverty, the environment, and nutrition. All 11 member countries of the region—Bangladesh, Bhutan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Timor-Leste—have adopted the WHO Stop TB strategy. More than 88 percent of the region’s TB patients have received successful treatment; in Indonesia, 90 percent of patients received successful treatment.
WHO noted that TB rates are still high in the area and important challenges remain, such as the need to increase technical and managerial capacity within national programs, provide additional funding for treatment programs, extend community-based care, and improve laboratory capacity to better diagnose and more effectively treat patients. The health ministry estimated that Indonesia records 450,000 new TB cases every year, which puts the country next after India, China, and South Africa in terms of prevalence. The disease kills at least 65,000 per year, making it the number one killer among communicable diseases in the country; more than 6,500 people have developed resistance to TB drugs because of low adherence to treatment.