ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday said there is a need to create public awareness to end taboos associated with tuberculosis (TB).
Speaking at the “End TB Summit”, he said around 350,000 TB related cases were still being detected across the country on a yearly basis and there was a need to work together to bring the number down.
Dr Alvi said the country now has an advantageous edge to fight against TB after gaining valuable experience in containing the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We need to create awareness that TB is a curable disease. The sufferers of this disease should be traced and treated. Health and education are most critical areas to work for poverty alleviation and Sehat Sahulat Card is a part of the government’s endeavour in this regard,” he said.
The event was held at Aiwan-i-Sadr by the Ministry of National Health Services, Health Services Academy and Dopasi Foundation. Dr Nausheen Hamid, Parliamentary Secretary Health, said Pakistan needs to speed up its efforts to end TB in Pakistan by the year 2030 to provide children with a country free from the disease while fulfilling commitments to the international community.
National Coordinator Common Management Unit and Joint Secretary Ministry of Health Bashir Khetran highlighted government’s efforts in eliminating TB. He said so far more than four million people have been treated with quality-assured drugs maintaining the treatment success rate of over 90pc.
He said the Common Management Unit had supported provincial TB programmes in the development and implementation of the “Mandatory TB Case Notification” Bill which had been passed by three provincial assemblies while legislation was underway in Balochistan and Islamabad.
Renowned actor Faisal Quraishi joined Stop TB Partnership as a celebrity ambassador.
Speaking at the summit, he said he committed himself to create awareness and contribute to initiating a dialogue at a mass level. He requested everyone to play their part in spreading the message.
In her video message, Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director Stop TB Partnership Geneva, said due to Covid-19 the world was not in a good position in the fight against TB and this year was very important to streamline efforts to eliminate TB.
In Pakistan, over 600,000 new TB cases, including 27,000 drug-resistant TB cases, emerge every year and are added to the prevalent pool of cases out of which nearly a third of the cases are missed while the rest are treated and cured. Over 44,000 people die due to tuberculosis every year in Pakistan which is ranked fifth among the TB high-burden countries and accounts for 60pc of the TB burden of WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region comprising 22 countries.
The summit also celebrated the Kochon Prize 2021 awarded to Pakistan for its efforts in eliminating TB. The international prize is endowed by the Kochon Foundation, Republic of Korea, and is awarded annually by the Stop TB Partnership Geneva to individuals and/or organisations that have made a significant contribution to combating TB.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2022