4 April 2010 - Islamabad, Pakistan - Stop TB Ambassador Anna Cataldi arrived in Pakistan today for a five-day visit. Her aim is to lend new impetus to public awareness initiatives centred on MDR-TB in Pakistan, which ranks 8th among the 22 high-burden TB countries and 6th among 27 countries most affected by MDR-TB.
Her goal is to invigorate public awareness initiatives centred on MDR-TB in Pakistan, which ranks 8th among the 22 high-burden TB countries and 6th among 27 countries most affected by MDR-TB.
During an interview on 6 April, which was reported in the online news vehicle, www.thenews.com, Cataldi praised efforts in Pakistan while urging greater awareness about TB and prevention of MDR-TB.
Message to people affected by TB:
"Don’t be ashamed if you have been diagnosed with TB. Speak about the disease; be responsible; and follow your treatment every single day for eight months to obtain complete cure. If you don’t, you will get MDR-TB, which has its own side-effects, is difficult and costly to treat, and may not always be curable."
"MDR-TB has artificially been created by human beings as it is not present in nature. Unfortunately, once patients start feeling better, it becomes difficult to convince them to continue their medication. Interruption of treatment leads to development of MDR-TB. And once you have MDR-TB, you can be contagious."
Human cost of lack of awareness:
"TB medicines are accessible and cheap; so is diagnosis. High TB mortality is, therefore, largely a question of lack of awareness. To begin with, we are in a state of denial. TB was historically so scaring that people refuse to accept that it is still around. Secondly, the media itself is resistant to TB. It is time the media played its expected role in raising awareness about TB."
"There is greater awareness about HIV because glamorous people are dying of AIDS today. HIV is a modern and glamorous infection. TB, on the contrary, is seen as a medieval and shameful disease. People consider it uncivilised to have TB in an age of satellite communication, mobile phones and computers."
Cataldi will soon publish a book focusing on the lives of six extraordinary women, two of whom are involved in humanitarian work in the domain of TB control. She served as UN Messenger of Peace from 1998-2007 before being appointed a Stop TB Ambassador.