TB threatens to spread from slums, more attention to poor required
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/14/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Tuberculosis (TB) in Latin America, is a serious problem due to overcrowding there. Worse, drug resistant TB is spreading in these regions making eradication virtually impossible in the face of poverty and overcrowding. Efforts are now underway to address the issue with local officials.
Slums are common breeding grounds for TB.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Tuberculosis flourishes where populations and poor and dense and the urban centers of Latin America are no exception. In the cities of the region, which have all exploded in population in recent decades, TB flourishes as more people pack themselves together in slums.
Urban poverty is a significant issue in Latin America and Pope Francis frequently worked in the slums on Buenos Aires while serving there as a priest and bishop. Many international aid organizations operate in the slums too, trying to keep the spread of TB at bay.
Fight back against this dreaded disease before if spreads.
Worldwide in 2011, 1.4 million people died from TB. In the Americas, there were over a quarter-million new cases reported. Since then, the situation has only worsened.
Exacerbating the problem is the spread of drug resistant TB. Resistant TB requires more aggressive treatment with a broad spectrum of antibiotics. Eradicating TB is a major goal of health organizations.
Not all cases of TB are fatal either. Cases which are detected and treated early have the best chance for full recovery. However, the longer an infection persists, the greater the odds for blindness, deafness, paralysis, mental retardation and death.
It's important that everyone work to stop TB because at some point, it will emerge from the slums and begin to infect wider segments of the population. It's also important because we have a moral obligation, especially to the poor, to help them combat this plague. We are our bothers' keepers and we have a duty to aid them.
Perhaps the most tragic feature of TB is just how easy it is to prevent and cure, if treated early and aggressively. This isn't such a problem for wealthier people who enjoy plenty of space and good sanitation. However, for the poor, especially children, the disease is a nightmare just waiting to happen.
The end of TB can be facilitated by improvements to sanitation, and the application of basic prevention techniques such as the use of face-masks, proper nutrition, early diagnosis and the employment of the right medications when it strikes.
This is possible, but governments alone can't be expected to address the problem, for they are often prime contributors to the condition of poverty amongst their people. In other words, we cannot expect the people who helped create the problem to also solve it.
Instead, this is the work of the Church, meaning you and me. By giving generously to fight diseases such as TB in American slums, you fulfil your duty to your brothers and sisters. You also diminish the chances that the disease will enter the hospitals and the places you go, and possibly infect you someday.
This is an obvious case where the world has a significant and immediate interest in aiding the poor.
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