Tuberculosis (TB) refers to an illness that primarily affects the lungs. The condition is caused by a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. While the lungs are the organs mainly affected by the disease, it can also affect other parts of the body such as abdomen glands and nervous system. TB is an airborne disease, which means that it is spread through the air through coughing, sneezing, or talking to an individual with the bacterium in the lungs or the throat. The person exposed to the bacteria becomes at risk of developing the disease, and hence anyone suspecting of having had contact with a person with the disease is advised to visit a health care facility for testing (Tanimura et al., 2014). It is not very easy to develop the disease, as one has to be in contact with the sick person for a long period. Those with a weak immune system are more likely to suffer from the disease.
Tuberculosis is a primary disease, which suggests the availability of measures and interventions to prevent the occurrence of the disease in an individual who has not contracted the disease already. The actions taken include the disease prevention strategies and health promotion activities. Some of the health promotion actions include hand hygiene and prevention of exposure such as air circulation. On the other hand, the disease prevention strategies include sophisticated techniques like vaccines to prevent the disease from occurring. The bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is the only vaccine available for the disease, although its use is seldom indicated in the US. For a vaccine to be put to use in the country, the CDC together with the FDA and other agencies of the government must perform an assessment of the safety, efficacy, utility, contraindications, and cost effectiveness of the drug (Theron et al., 2014). Research is being carried out to establish other effective vaccines to prevent the disease and if more effective than BCG, they will play a critical role in preventing the disease.
Effects of TB
TB is one of the leading causes of death from infectious diseases, globally, but also in the United States. Research evidence remains minimal regarding the epidemiology of TB. Thus, the social and economic impacts of the disease are a subject that remains minimally researched. However, there is no doubt that illness and deaths resulting from the disease have serious social, economic, and even psychology impacts. Mostly, families do not respond passively to severe disease episodes. On the contrary, they come up with different mechanisms to cope and decrease the impact of the disease and possible demise (Tanimura et al., 2014). Indeed, many individuals are at risk of acquiring the disease; including healthcare workers who are exposed to it. It is worth noting that washing the hands can significantly decrease the risk for the nurses, especially those working or living in prison or a nursing home. The affected suffer from psychological stress besides the economic cost of treatment.
The numbers of the people affected by the disease indicate a huge burden to individuals, the healthcare system, and society in general. The World Health Organization in 2012 projected that there was an occurrence of 8.6 million incidents (122 cases for every 100,000 population) globally with a 12 million cases estimated prevalence. It has been projected that 1.3 million deaths have occurred, of which 0.41 million were women, 0.32 million were HIV-positive patients, while 170,000 cases that occurred were multi-drug-resistant TB patients. The Tuberculosis incidence is increasing in developed countries based on many factors, including increased air travel, high levels of poverty, poor nutrition, and a rise in the number of old people who are highly vulnerable to the illness based on their compromised immune system (Glaziou et al., 2013). The increase indicates an upsurge in the demand for resources necessary to address the problem.
Economic resources are critical in the treatment and management of TB. However, economic challenges in some nations are causing pressure on budgets of health care. There have been efforts to come up with cost-effective treatments, but this has not saved the health care systems from the burden of treating the disease. In addition, in some cases, the cost-effective interventions have not been in use. When the cost and benefit of investment in health care are put into consideration, the overall social costs are high. In that case, the public costs and the direct cost on the individual are considered (Theron et al., 2014). Indeed, to make efficient decisions in the health care system, the cost should not be the only ones borne by the government. In the case where only the private cost is put into consideration, minimal investment will be created, and allocations end up being made in such a manner that does not cater for the whole burden of disease.
The financial burden of the disease can lead to a considerable drain on the resources of the society. It is necessary to make estimates of the cost, especially when coming up with budgets and in seeking funds from the government or other sources, including donations. The TB Economic Burden Analysis Tool plays an important role in calculating the financial burden of TB to the national and state governments and the health care organizations. The expenses are considered regarding cost of treatment, patients’ costs, and loss of productivity leading to the overall financial burden (Glaziou et al., 2013). While the treatment of TB is high already, it becomes even more when those individual has HIV/AIDS. The effect on immunity puts those with HIV/AIDS at risk of TB, increasing the cost of treatment even further.
While the burden of TB is normally spread across all age groups, the greatest effect is normally on those in their productive age, mainly from the age of 15 to 44. Thus, the impact is not only related to the use of resources in the treatment of TB but also in the production ability that is lost. The effect of the disease on families is usually financially devastating. Those mandated with the role of taking care of the sick have inadequate lack time to work causing further economic cost to families and society. The problem lowers productivity; hence, the poverty cycle persists (Theron et al., 2014). The development of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) as well as the extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) has further increased the cost of care. Essentially, the cost of treating these strains is hundreds of times more than handling the normal strains.
Tuberculosis is an airborne disease, which is among the deadliest diseases globally. The primary disease, given the reality that it is preventable, is associated with a huge economic burden to individuals, families, and the society in general. The cost is associated with the necessary resources to treat the disease, the lost productivity, and the psychosocial effects on the affected and their families. In essence, TB causes a serious burden, socially and financially on the affected individuals, their households, and society.