Cover TB screening as part of Pioneer Generation Package

More should be done to prevent latent tuberculosis (TB) from becoming active in Singapore.

A recent report mentioned that persons with latent TB can develop active TB when they grow older or have weakened immunity (Hospitals move to tackle latent TB problem in S'pore; March 24).

Also, up to 30 per cent of older residents in Singapore have latent TB because the disease was prevalent here up till the 70s.

This means that of the 400,000 or so pioneers in Singapore, about 120,000 may have latent TB.

Out of this, about 5 per cent to 10 per cent will develop active TB, according to the World Health Organisation.

While it is encouraging that the National University Hospital has started screening patients with weakened immunity and treating those found to have latent TB, it seems that other public hospitals have not done so.

It is also notable that pioneers are not being screened and treated for latent TB.

As TB is still a public health priority, and a third of our pioneers are known reservoirs for future cases of active TB, perhaps the scope of Pioneer Generation Package can be expanded to cover latent TB screening and treatment.

Patients with weakened immunity and many pioneers are probably already living with various health challenges.

Proactive efforts to deal with a highly treatable condition such as latent TB may help them avert further potentially calamitous health woes.

Li Ze Zong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2018, with the headline 'Cover TB screening as part of Pioneer Generation Package'. Print Edition | Subscribe