Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Korea's TB rate highest in OECD

This is a problem that South Korea can't seem to shake. The ROK has topped all other OECD countries in prevalence and morality for tuberculosis. There are 90 cases per 100,000 people. Japan was second, but with only a fourth of that rate, 21 per 100,000. And if I'm reading the Korea Herald piece correctly, there were 10 deaths from TB per 100,000 people.

Sohn Sookmi, an assembly member from the ruling Grand National Party (Hannara), touches on the issue in the context of preventative measures for H1N1 (swine flu) that have gripped the country:
"In addition to the nation's dishonor of being No. 1 in TB deaths, the more serious problem is the numbers of patients and deaths from the disease has not decreased in years.

"As the H1N1 flu virus is rapidly spreading here, I caution that health authorities cannot ignore other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis."
She noted that the death rate for TB is 100 times that of H1N1. While "swine flu" prevention is important and one hopes that the zeal with which it is being promoted will carry over to other forms of the flu, Ms Sohn makes a valid point that other diseases should not be ignored. That would include TB or, say, suicide.

The article goes on to say that there were 139,497 during the past four years, with 10,318 fatalities, a 7.4 percent mortality rate.

What would have been helpful would have been prevention tips for TB, particularly those that make the disease so common in South Korea compared to other countries.

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