Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tuberculosis in Singapore

Lee Hui Chieh reports in Straits Times that TB figures for Singapore are up from 35.1/100,000 in 2007 to 39.8/100,000 in 2008. The Health Ministry (MOH) released the update ahead of World Tuberculosis Day on Monday.

There needs to be some perspective with respect to this alarmist type of reporting.

The incidence of TB in Singapore is low and has drifted from (per 100,000 Singaporeans and PRs) 54.9 (1997) to 37.0 (2005), 34.8 (2006), 35.1 (2007) and now 39.8 (2008). It remains to be seen if this is a sustained increasing rate or just a yearly fluctuation. Fact is most of these cases are reactivation of old infections. Even if the rates are really increasing, the MOH should try and ascertain why the reactivation rates are increasing? Is it a function of our aging population? Or is it related to the increase in immigrants and PRs who harbour old infected foci?

The MOH needs to get better data.

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