CAIRO: The Health Ministry and the WHO signed an agreement Sunday to launch a national awareness campaign to combat one of Egypt’s most prevalent diseases, Tuberculosis (TB).
The yearlong campaign aims to minimize the number of people suffering from TB, a common and sometimes fatal infectious disease caused by mycobacteria that attack the lungs or central nervous system.
The ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) signed an agreement with Amr Khaled, chairman of the Right Start Foundation International, and Dr Hisham Omar, chairman of the Health Forums, marking the launch of the campaign.
The conference was also attended by Dr Essam El-Moghazy, chairman of the Health Ministry’s National Tuberculosis Control Program, and Dr Ahmed Abdel Razik, chairman of the WHO office in Egypt.
According to El-Moghazy, there are over 1 million Tuberculosis patients in the West Mediterranean area, which includes around 24 countries.
According to WHO reports, TB is the second most important public health problem in Egypt, after Bilharzia.
Under the agreement, Abdel Razik explained, the campaign aims to inform people about the disease and ways to deal with it.
Phase two of the campaign will involve engaging the community by informing citizens about treatment programs and preventive measures, Abdel Razik said. The final phase will work to eradicate the social stigma associated with the disease.
Popular Muslim preacher Amr Khaled lauded the ministry’s as well as the WHO’s efforts in initiating the project, highlighting other projects that saw a government body partner with an NGO, such as the anti-drug and anti-smoking campaigns.
Such cooperation, he said, proves that the Ministry of Health is serious about tackling these problems and is keen on “engaging youth and the public in general to reach practical solutions.
“This campaign is a success even before it gets started, Khaled said, referring to the government’s initiative in “reaching out to the NGOs and the youth as “in itself a great success.
Omar underlined the importance of eradicating poverty and disease in order for Egypt to develop.
“I am positive that there are so many youngsters who would do anything to see this change take place in their country, he said.
Every year, the National Tuberculosis Control Program, which was established in 1979, receives more than 12,000 new TB patients. Based on the 0.32 percent annual risk of infection, it is estimated that 6,000 – 8,000 people develop TB annually.
On March 11, 2009, an event will be organized in Cairo to garner support for the cause, bringing together public figures such as actors, athletes and over 20,000 Egyptians active in NGOs. On March 11, 2009, an event will be organized in Cairo to garner support for the cause, bringing together public figures such as actors, athletes and over 20,000 Egyptians active in NGOs.