ISLAMABAD: After the intervention of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has finally appointed a permanent national coordinator, Common Management Unit (CMU), a seat that had been filled on an ad hoc basis for many years.

Dr. Razia Kaniz Fatima has assumed the charge of national coordinator CMU to deal with tuberculosis (TB), HIV/Aida, and malaria under the Ministry of NHS.

Having two decades of experience in the field of public health, she is a medical doctor who obtained her PhD in Public Health from the University of Bergen, Norway, in 2015, her MSc Epidemiology from LSHTM UK (2008), and her Master’s in Public Health (2009).

She represented Pakistan at various international forums and was elected chair of the TB section of the International Union against TB and Lung Disease and Ethics Advisory Group.

She has published more than 65 research papers on public health in international peer-reviewed journals.

She also led the Global Fund TB Grant Cycle 7 for the years 2024–26 with a challenge to submit in Window-1 and successfully secured 185 million US dollars for the TB grant. In a statement, Dr. Fatima said that tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV were major infectious diseases and important public health problems in Pakistan.

She said that more than 600,000 people are affected by tuberculosis; an estimated 270,000 suffer from HIV; however, screening and registration need to be done; and there are a million cases of malaria.

Low socioeconomic status is an important attribute of these diseases in Pakistan.

A vicious cycle of poverty, malnutrition, and unemployment leads to a high prevalence of three diseases,” she said.

It is worth mentioning that the Ministry of NHS established the CMU to control TB, AIDS, and malaria and to receive and disburse Global Fund grants through provincial governments.

Unfortunately, for many years, the post of national coordinator was vacant, and appointments were being made on an ad hoc basis.

The Global Fund had repeatedly communicated its concerns about the non-appointment of a permanent national coordinator and its adverse effect on the performance of the programs.

The Islamabad High Court, in a petition, directed the Ministry to appoint a regular national coordinator.

Dr Fatima intends to expand TB, HIV, and malaria services to the doorstep of communities by strengthening the primary health care system through decentralisation and engagement of basic health units and private providers.

“Screening counters will be established in all major hospitals and public places for rapid screening for TB, HIV, and malaria.

The highest forums of key societies like Pakistan chest society, and forum of infectious disease society, and family physicians associations will be engaged for strategic implementations of preventive therapy for TB in the country,” she said.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Iran’s counterstrike
Updated 15 Apr, 2024

Iran’s counterstrike

Israel, by attacking Iran’s diplomatic facilities and violating Syrian airspace, is largely responsible for this dangerous situation.
Opposition alliance
15 Apr, 2024

Opposition alliance

AFTER the customary Ramazan interlude, political activity has resumed as usual. A ‘grand’ opposition alliance ...
On the margins
15 Apr, 2024

On the margins

IT appears that we are bent upon taking the majoritarian path. Thus, the promise of respect and equality for the...
Noshki killings
Updated 14 Apr, 2024

Noshki killings

It must be asked why Baloch separatists continue to target civilians as well as security men despite large deployment.
Upholding the law
14 Apr, 2024

Upholding the law

THE recent discord in Bahawalnagar offers a chance to reflect on the sanctity of the law and its enforcement across...
Tragic travels
14 Apr, 2024

Tragic travels

FOR those embarking on road and boat journeys, the probability of fatal accidents has seen a steady rise. The recent...