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119,000 TB cases in Russia - health official

MOSCOW, January 27 (RIA Novosti) - There are about 119,000 people with tuberculosis, a disease that often accompanies HIV, in Russia, a health official said Friday.

Yekaterina Kakorina, a senior Health and Social Development Ministry official, said TB cases in Russia had doubled in the last 15 years, though the situation had recently "stabilized" somewhat.

Statistics show that today there are 83 TB cases per 100,000 people, whereas the figures for Western Europe amount to 7-10 cases.

"Statistics for 2005 show that the mortality rate has grown," Kakorina said. "Working-age people, mainly 40-59 years of age, die of the disease."

About 26,000 people died from tuberculosis in Russia in 2004.

Kakorina said the national healthcare program, one of the four programs proposed by the president to improve living standards in Russia, envisaged heightened measures to prevent and cure the disease.

She said medical institutions would be supplied with 696 units of fixed and 200 units of mobile equipment to diagnose TB in its early stage. In addition, 2 billion rubles ($71.5 million) in federal funds will be allocated to conduct medical examinations of citizens in the 35-55 age bracket.

TB is particularly widespread among prison inmates in Russia.

The first deputy head of the federal penitentiary supervisory body, Alla Kuznetsova, said about 49,000 prison inmates currently had TB.

"TB cases and mortality among inmates have shrunk by two times in the past six years," Kuznetsova said.

"Anywhere from 15,000 to 17,000 people with TB are sent to penitentiary institutions every year, many of who are unaware of their disease until they find themselves in a pre-trial detention center," she said.

Kuznetsova said the sick inmates received proper medical treatment, but only 47%-48% of them continued treatment after they were released from jail.

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