GILGIT: Even though free treatments and medications are available in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) to treat patients with tuberculosis, thousands of residents are suffering from the disease.
Addressing a seminar held here on Sunday, Tuberculosis (TB) Control Programme In-Charge Mubeen Khan said that cases of TB are on the rise in G-B, adding that it is due to lack of awareness among the masses.
Khan said that since most of the people in the far-flung valleys are illiterate, they tend to ignore the severity of the disease. Similarly, they are unaware about the free-of-cost medication and treatment facilities being offered to patients at TB centres.
The programme in-charge said that people must know that TB is no more an incurable disease and the treatment is free-of-cost in the region now. He added that Darel, Tangeer, Chamogarh, Chakarkote, Haramosh, Chalt, Chaprote, Ghanche and parts of Astore valley are some of the most vulnerable areas.
Khan said that under the TB Control Programme, medicines worth Rs7.5 million have been purchased and are being provided to over 20 TB-care centres working in G-B. He said that 27 more TB centres will be opened in G-B soon.
Khan said that children exposed to the affected family members are at high risk of contracting the disease. Far too many go untreated, since TB is often difficult to diagnose and treat in children, he added.
Itmanullah, a resident of Chamogarh who works in Gilgit, said that the many of the people in his locality carry the symptoms of TB patients, but poverty coupled with lack of awareness prevents them from getting treatment.
The TB programme in-charge said that another reason resulting in spread of TB is treatment by untrained doctors.
A physician, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that many doctors in G-B do not know how to treat a patient suffering from TB. “But unfortunately, instead of referring them to the concerned doctors they start treating the patients themselves just for the sake of few hundred rupees,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2012.
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