As tuberculosis remains a serious problem across the country, a prominent Muslim organization has appointed an ambassador to begin raising awareness of the debilitating disease.
Aisyiyah, the women’s wing of Muhammadiyah, the second-largest Muslim organization in the country, recently chose actress Mediana Hutomo to inform the public about the dangers of tuberculosis.
Mediana, who was appointed tuberculosis ambassador on Thursday, will spend three months traveling across the archipelago to spread the message about the deadly respiratory disease.
The campaign, which is set to begin late this month, will visit 35 cities and districts in 16 provinces, Aisyiyah chairwoman Noor Rochmah said.
“The reason that we are really concerned about TB [tuberculosis] is because the number of TB cases in Indonesia is quite high,” Noor said on Sunday.
“According to the minister of health, TB causes 346 deaths in Indonesia every day. Therefore, it is very important to raise the awareness among Indonesian society because they do not realize that they may have TB.”
Indonesia has in recent years taken steps to reduce the prevalence of the disease. In December, the Health Ministry said it was optimistic the country could reach the UN Millennium Development Goal on halting and beginning to reverse the incidence of tuberculosis by the 2015 target date.
According to the World Health Organization’s Global Tuberculosis Control data, Indonesia is ranked fifth worldwide in total tuberculosis cases with 429,730. India tops the list, followed by China, South Africa and Nigeria.
That is still a significant improvement from the 2007 figures, when Indonesia’s 528,000 tuberculosis cases placed it third, behind India and China.
Noor said that although Mediana was appointed as Muhammadiyah’s tuberculosis ambassador, she would work with Christian and Buddhist groups to get the word out.
“The main thing here is how society can raise their awareness about TB because so many people sometimes do not recognize TB symptoms, which often appear as an ordinary flu and coughing,” Noor said.
“But as times goes by, the coughing will become coughing blood, the patient will lose weight and it then kills them without being recognized that the coughing was the indication of TB.”
Noor said that after Mediana’s initial three-month tour concludes, the campaign will expand to cover an additional 75 cities and districts starting in July.