Health Protection Agency, HPA, is an organisation that deals with people suffering from various diseases, including tuberculosis. Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly contagious disease that comes with different repercussions depending on individual cases (Larsen, 2012). It is treated with antibiotics and takes around six months before it clears completely from the body. Despite being curable, it is considered as one of the greatest killer diseases, especially among the working population (age 18 to 59). Health Protection Agency makes a considerable contribution to curbing tuberculosis by providing support to the National Health Service, especially in taking measures of controlling the disease and preventing its spread. This agency provides services such as laboratory tests, supervision services, and referrals to the health centre when there is a need for further checkups. They also work with communities in providing them with the necessary information on how to diagnose diseases like tuberculosis.
The main issue faced by the Health Protection Agency and many others in the attempt to control tuberculosis is the challenge in diagnosing the disease in its early stages. In most cases, it normally manifests as the common cold, and many patients take medication for the common cold, mostly obtained over the counter. This issue was brought to my attention when I came across data on the number of deaths caused by tuberculosis. This implied that there had to be a root cause for this considering the disease is curable and medication is readily available.
In the bid to reverse this trend, HPA has devised strategies such as offering health education to the communities especially the low end who, in most cases shy away from seeking medical help due to the costs involved. The health education being offered by the HPA is important because most people have little information on how tuberculosis spread or prevented. Hence, through health education, we can work with HPA in providing these kinds of training and sensitisation campaigns to the community. This will also involve carrying out free tuberculosis checkups to ensure that the people who have the disease are given sufficient and timely medication.
Possible Intervention Strategy
Besides community education and training, I would recommend that the health care professional work hand in hand and empower social workers to speak in one voice on tuberculosis issues. This should be embraced at the community, regional and national levels.
Tuberculosis is one of the fatal curable diseases, according to the Canadian International Development Agency (2012). It is highly contagious and airborne, spread by bacteria. In the past, it has been known to claim over a million lives annually. According to a report released by Centres for Disease and Control in 2010, it was found out that of the total 24 per cent of persons with tuberculosis nationally in the US, about 2,652 were black (2012). Similarly, a report by the same organisation in 2010 showed that the rate of TB in the black population was about 7.0 cases per 10,000 people (Center for Disease and Control, 2012). This was approximately seven times higher than non-Hispanic and whites, which was about 0.9 cases per 10,000 people.
Center for Disease and Control (2012) illustrates that the high rate of tuberculosis prevalent among blacks is caused by several factors. One of the factors is that the period of treatment for suppressed infection and the disease is prolonged. In most cases, the community is not able to seek medical intervention for a prolonged. For those already infested, insufficient treatment contributes to deterioration, failure and in worst cases, an increase of drug resistance. On the other hand, those with suppressed infection, there is often medication administered with no indications of the illness. Therefore, delayed treatment contributes to the spread of the disease-causing strain on the health care facilities available (Larsen, 2012).
Similarly, the socio-economic challenges experienced by blacks makes them vulnerable to a high rate of TB infections. Poverty limits them to gain employment, access to quality health care and housing. Thus, the socio-economic challenge indirectly or directly escalates the vulnerability and creates an obstacle for disease treatment among the community.
TB is often associated with HIV. People infected with HIV are more susceptible than uninfected people to contract TB. According to Centres for Disease and Control (2012), blacks are the ethnic group most affected by HIV in the US. Based on the statistics released in 2009, though they represent about 14 per cent of the US population, they account for about 44 per cent of new HIV infections (Center for Disease and Control, 2012).
Therefore, it is important to support communities such as the black population through education and training. This strategy will create awareness and sensitise them on the causes of TB and preventions available and lead to reduce the pandemic of spreading.
Intervention and Evaluation
The black community will be more vulnerable if there are no proper strategies in place to reduce the rate of TB contraction. As indicated by the statistics, the rate of the spread of TB among blacks is worrying in the US. Though they comprise 14 per cent of the US population, Centres for Disease and Control illustrates that they account for approximate 44 per cent of new infections (2012). To curb this spread, efforts must address the persistent cause of TB among the blacks and formulate effective strategies.
The current strategy employed by the community is education and awareness. The campaign is comprehensive. Education and awareness are combined with equipping blacks with training to help them develop new TB prevention skills and fostering a partnership with health caregivers.
Plan for intervention
To rid the community of tuberculosis and other effects it brings along, the first thing I will recommend is to ensure the community is sensitised on the symptoms of TB. I will begin the sensitisation process by TB diagnosis among the black community. During the sensitisation process, I will involve health care professionals, the community and the government. Because of the scope of sensitisation, more funding will be required to facilitate the process. Funding will facilitate my team to organise forums where the TB matters will be discussed, administer treatment where appropriate, purchase other items during the sensitisation period and reach out to the wider community. I will seek funding from donor agencies, the government, individuals and non-governmental organisation.
Research shows that early diagnosis is easier to treat using antibiotics as compared to when the disease is in its advanced stages and in most of these cases, most patients do not recover or are left with other problems such as blindness, hearing disability and organ failures (Larsen, 2012).
On diagnosis, I will ensure the community is made to understand that tuberculosis symptoms are similar to a normal cold, characterised by prolonged dry coughs. This is accompanied by fever, especially at night, which happens to be symptoms of the common cold as well. In advanced stages, there is a production of bloody sputum and severe loss of weight and appetite (Schlossberg, 1994). It also comes along with other conditions such as organ failures which in most cases become permanent even after tuberculosis has been cured, hence the need for early diagnosis.
With the help of health care professionals, I will also highlight the process of diagnosing TB using the available technology. TB is diagnosed using radiology, which is done in the chest area since the disease occurs in the lungs. A microscopic test is conducted on body fluids, especially saliva and sputum, to ensure that the microorganisms that cause tuberculosis are not harboured in the body (Kirst & Hull, 2012).
If these procedures are conducted in the community frequently, then cases tuberculosis will reduce since they will be diagnosed early enough and treated before getting to any other part of the body.
With the help of a medical professional, another item I will involve in sensitisation is the treatment of TB. Treatment for TB is important because the social workers are expected to be familiar with the remedies for the condition to be effective in assisting the community to deal with it. One of the methods for treating tuberculosis I will advocate for is by using at least four different types of antibiotics in the first two months. These antibiotics will be reduced to two for the next four months, depending on the prescription. In most cases, patients get cured after the six months of constant treatment though a 2% relapse possibility is usually allowed for (Kirst & Hull, 2012). However, for the milder form commonly referred to as Latent TB, a patient can use one kind of prescription for the whole six months.
Evaluation is important in every aspect of a plan or strategy because it helps to prove the impact of the work commissioned and a likelihood of future success of performing even better. Besides assessing the effectiveness of the strategy, it also lays the ground for funding and lessons to be learned for future reference.
To know the success of my intervention strategy, I will encourage participatory feedback from the stakeholders. This approach is people-centred; hence, the stakeholder, that is; the community will provide their feedback concerning the strategy. From the feedback given, I will be able to evaluate whether the intervention was a success or not.
Also, prior to the commencement of the intervention program, I will ensure the success of the intervention by encouraging the community to define and monitor success. This will involve teamwork in goal setting. The goal will clarify the objective of the intervention, thus committing the community to the shared goals of continuous assessment and monitoring of the goals set.
To acknowledge the effectiveness of my intervention, I will assess the impact of the community in terms of seeking diagnosis and treatment. I will perform this in collaboration with health care facilities. Hence, if there is a high number of blacks’ attending health care facilities for treatment of TB, I will know that the impact of my intervention has been successful.
Canadian International Development Agency. (2012). Tuberculosis: Canada Remains Committed to the Global Fight against Tuberculosis. Web.
Center for Disease and Control. (2012). Tuberculosis in the African–American Community. Web.
Kirst, K. & Hull, G. H. (2012). Foundations of Social Work Practice, Vol. 2. Belmont, Canada: Cengage Learning.
Larsen, J. (2012). Foundations of Social Work Practice, Vol. 1. Belmont, Canada: Cengage Learning.
Schlossberg, D. (1994). Tuberculosis. New York: Springer-Verlag.