Saturday, 13 April 2013

TUBERCULOSIS: Pakistan: country's biggest public health problem: experts

 Tuberculosis (TB) has emerged as the biggest public health problem of the country as Pakistan ranks 5th among the high burden TB incidence countries in the world while 50,000 new TB cases occurs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa every year. This was crux of the seminar conducted in Peshawar to commemorate Dr Robert Koch's discovery of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, the bacteria that cause TB.

It is worth mentioning that Dr Koch's discovery was a milestone towards control of the deadly disease. Special Secretary Health, Mohammad Akbar, Director General Health Services, Dr Sharif Ahmad Khan, Dr Project Director of TB Control Programme, Dr Ubaid Hussain, Dr Arshad Javed, Chief Executive-Lady Reading Hospital and others addressed the seminar.

The seminar was attended by representatives of health department, KP, National TB Control Program, tertiary care and hospitals, donor agencies and implementing partners of the Provincial TB Control Programme, experts on TB and chest diseases, community representatives, teachers, students, TB patients and media personnel.

Commending the efforts of the TB Control Programme, the special Secretary Health, Akbar Khan appraised the forum that "Provincial TB Control Programme has achieved the targets of case detection rate of 68 per cent and treatment success rate of 94 per cent, which are in line with the World Health Organization's recommendations. Yet, achieving the targets is not an end of the journey, rather a commitment that they still need to go a long way to control TB.

The availability of anti-TB drugs and trained and motivated human resource at the diagnostic and treatment centres are encouraging, but to sustain the achieved targets, we must continue with the same spirit and improve the quality of services". Speaking of the achievements made by the program, Dr Sharif Ahmad Khan, the Director General Health Services KP informed the audience that, "Health Department has initiated TB Control Programme in KP since 2002 and today, they have 228 Basic Management Units (diagnostic centers) and 810 functional treatment centers all over the province. Quality assured anti-TB drugs and diagnostic facilities are provided free of cost".

The DG-Health stressed that "It is very important for the success of any programme that constant monitoring and evaluation is carried out so that weaknesses are notified in time and rectified. We have a meticulous recording and reporting system for the programme enabling us to monitor and report the working of each diagnostic centre".

"In 2012, TB Control Programme KP was able to register 35,848 patients with 94 per cent treatment success rate. World Health Organisation has estimated about 1,500 cases of Multi Drug Resistance (MDR-TB) annually in the province. The Program's target is to enhance the capacity of public and private sectors to detect and manage 80 per cent of the estimated smear positive MDR-TB incident cases by 2015", said Dr Ubaid Hussain, the Project Director, TB Control Program. He further informed that free of cost provision of anti-TB drugs has been initiated to TB patients seeking treatment from private health clinics in selected districts.

Addressing the seminar, the prominent pulmonologist Professor Dr Arshad Javed highlighted the need to involve all the practitioners working in private sector for provision of free TB care services to patients. He also appreciated quality MDR-TB care facility at Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar.

The Secretary Health also distributed shields of acknowledgement among professionals for their contribution to control TB in the province. He also acknowledged the support extended by National TB Control Program, WHO, GFATM, GIZ, KFW, EPOS, ACD and ASD for their continued assistance and thanked PATA, Green Star Good life, and others who contributed substantially in case finding and case holding of TB patients in the province. 

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