The latest to make the news is that of a pre-school teacher (Little Greenhouse, Bukit Batok) who was diagnosed with pulmonary TB last Wednesday, leading to planned screening of all 104 pre-schoolers 20 staff.
This follows news of the elderly resident from Peacehaven Bedok Day Centre who was diagnosed with TB in June, leading to a round of screening of residents and staff; Tanah Merah MRT TB “outbreak”, and the Ang Mo Kio multidrug-resistant TB cluster. All in fairly rapid succession.
The incidence of TB has not increased dramatically in Singapore, although it has sort of been inching up since 2008. In the past, such news reports were rare (but such events did happen). But having more of such cases reach the public attention can only be a good thing, despite the potential trouble it brings to the authorities, the companies involved, andthe TB control programme in Singapore. They provide opportunities for repeated public education about tuberculosis – many online commentators seem to believe we hardly had TB in Singapore in the past, which is patently erroneous – as well as prevent TB from reaching the state of being a neglected disease in Singapore (with cuts in funding to operational and research programmes). This last is particularly important, because TB resurgence in many countries have occurred as a consequence of policy makers’ attention moving to other more newsworthy diseases, falsely believing that TB elimination was merely a matter of time.