ISLAMABAD: While over 400,000 tuberculosis (TB) related cases are detected across the country on a yearly basis, the health ministry has vowed to end the disease in Pakistan by 2030.

In his message on World TB Day which is observed on the 24th of every March, the health minister said that a campaign led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been started to raise awareness about one of the most devastating infectious diseases still affecting communities.

“The goal of World TB Day is to highlight the worldwide commitment to eliminate TB and ensure equitable access to prevention, treatment, and care for this disease,” the statement by Abdul Qadir Patel said.

After Covid-19, TB is the second infectious killer in the world and the 13th largest cause of death overall, as per the statement.

“On this day, political and social commitment might be mobilised in order to accelerate efforts to reduce the burden of tuberculosis. We all firmly believe that if we want to advance towards a world where there are zero TB deaths, nobody should be left behind in the fight against TB,” he said.

“Around four million avoidable deaths still occur each year as a result of infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria, viral hepatitis, and TB… Accelerating efforts to lessen the burden of communicable diseases is a vital way to attain that aim as countries work towards universal health care. Countries with a high disease burden will struggle to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) without investing significantly more in the fight against communicable diseases,” Mr Patel said.

A spokesperson at the Ministry of National Health Services Sajid Shah told Dawn that there was a need to create awareness among the masses that TB is a curable disease.

“Pakistan has expedited its efforts to end TB by 2030… So far, more than 4m people have been treated with quality assured drugs while maintaining treatment success rates of more than 90pc,” he said.

Mr Shah informed that the Common Management Unit of the federal government has supported provincial TB programmes in the development and implementation of the “Mandatory TB Case Notification” bill.

It is worth mentioning that in Pakistan, over 400,000 new TB cases — including 27,000 drug-resistant TB cases — emerge every year whereas over 44,000 persons die due to tuberculosis every year.

Pakistan is ranked fifth and accounts for 60pc of the TB burden of WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region comprising 22 countries.

According to a statement issued by the WHO, Tuberculosis remains one of the world’s top infectious killers, causing 1.6m deaths each year and affecting millions more, with enormous impacts on families and communities.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2023

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