ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar on Tuesday stressed to raise awareness on preventive and treatment aspects of disease tuberculosis.
Addressing a seminar in connection with World TB Day, which was observed on March 24th, the minister said that TB is a curable disease and the government is providing free of cost treatment services throughout country.
“We must disseminate information regarding tuberculosis among our communities to help save lives of thousands of people who die of TB every year,” Saira Tarar said.
She urged people from all walks of life to help TB patients avail free treatment being provided by the government. She said Pakistan has the 5th highest incidence of TB in the world which remains a cause for serious concern.
She said it must be ensured that patients follow the full course of medication for the prescribed period. Tuberculosis carries social stigma, which is a major obstacle to treatment, adding, public education and building awareness can help prevent spread of the disease.
She said that the government is making concerted efforts to control TB in Pakistan. She added more than 1.5 million TB patients have been diagnosed and treated free of cost with quality assured anti TB drugs in both public and private sector across the country through a network of 1500 quality assured microscopy centers and 4000 treatment centers.
This network is expanding gradually to ensure accessibility of TB care services to every TB patient in Pakistan.
She said, Multi Drug Resistant TB is also a major challenge and the government is providing specialized treatment to over 3,140 such patients at 18 treatment centers across country.
She said that success rate of such treatment is very high due to top quality care and treatment provided to these patients.
She said special emphasis is being laid on diagnosis and treatment of children with TB as during last year 28,113 such children were provided free treatment facilities.
She said, information technology is also being increasingly used in the program and e-surveillance system is ensuring availability of case based online data of TB patients from all basic management units to district, provincial and federal level.
She appreciated the efforts of the National TB Control Program in the fight against TB. She said with the support of international and national organizations and all relevant stakeholders, the government will not only control tuberculosis but also reduce it to a level where it is no longer a threat to people’s health.