- KIEV (Reuters) - A fast-spreading tuberculosis epidemic has reached
a critical stage in Ukraine, a senior health ministry official said on
- "At the moment, the situation is
very difficult and threatening," Deputy Health Minister Victor Veselsky
said at the launch of a Red Cross program on fighting TB.
- "Tuberculosis is a threat to national
security, and this problem should be resolved at the highest level."
- He said 55 Ukrainians in every 100,000
now suffered from the infectious disease, which claims 8,000 lives a year.
- Of the 532,000 Ukrainians infected with
the bacterium, almost 114,000 have the more dangerous "active"
- "What is extremely worrying is the
number of children infected," Veselsky said. "Unfortunately,
the situation is unlikely to improve in the short term."
- The number of children with TB has increased
by 54.5 percent in the last five years. TB is caused by an airborne bacterium
that attacks the lungs, causing painful coughing, emaciation, sweating
and dramatic changes in body temperature. It thrives in poorly ventilated
areas but can be treated by chemotherapy or prevented by vaccination.
- After being brought under control for
a few decades, it is making a comeback in many ex-Soviet states, largely
due to low living standards.
- Veselsky said the disease most often
infected the poor, including vagrants, illegal immigrants, refugees and
- The Ukrainian Red Cross Society said
TB killed one person every 25 minutes in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and