World Tuberculosis Day was observed in Peshawar and Gilgit among other areas on Thursday. The day, which is celebrated on March 24, aims to raise awareness about the disease.
At a seminar held at Lady Reading Hospital, Provincial TB Coordinator Dr Maqsood Ali said at least 50,000 people suffer from TB in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He added Pakistan ranks fifth among high-burden countries for the epidemic worldwide. The seminar was attended by doctors and specialists.
Addressing participants, Dr Arshad Javaid, who heads the pulmonology department at LRH, said 1,500 patients of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) have been registered throughout the province between 2012 and 2015.
“In 2015 alone, 299 cases were registered,” he said. “Around 79 were reported from LRH, 62 in Ayub Medical Hospital Abbottabad, 24 in Mufti Mahmood Teaching Hospital DI Khan and 34 in Saidu Teaching Hospital Swat. The number is increasing every day.”
MDR-TB does not respond to isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful anti-TB drugs. Multi-drug resistance continues to emerge and spread because of mismanagement during treatment and person-to-person transmission.
Javaid discussed the main cause of MDR-TB and urged people who suffer from a persistent coughing or high temperature to immediately go for a check-up. “This will ensure TB is diagnosed and treatment can begin immediately,” he said.
Ali said there are 225 diagnostic and 810 treatment centres across the province to control the spread of TB.
“The provincial government has spent large amounts of money on the TB control programme,” he said. “It has provided free medicines to its patients and organised awareness seminars and workshops at the district level to create awareness about suitable treatment.”
In Gilgit-Baltistan, a seminar was held at Gilgit Press Club on Thursday.
Dr Muhammad Saleem, manager of the TB control programme, said Diamer district has been identified as most vulnerable to TB and the number of registered patients has reached beyond 4,000.
“Access to health facilities and lack of awareness among the public about the epidemic are some of the main reasons behind this,” Saleem said. According to Saleem, people must be informed that TB can be cured and free treatment is available in the region now.
He added Darel, Tangeer, Chamogarh, Chakarkote, Haramosh, Chalt, Chaprote, Ghanche and parts of Astore Valley are vulnerable to
G-B has 22 TB centres in its 10 districts. According to experts, these centres cannot provide treatment to nearly two million people. Saleem said the detection rate of TB in G-B was abysmal due an insufficient number of TB centres.
During the seminar, Haider Khan, a parliamentary secretary in G-B, highlighted the reasons for the prevalence of TB in the country, especially in G-B. “Remote areas need to be focused on,” he said. He said he would help approve the PC-1 that will allow TB department to hire more employees and obtain more equipment.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2016.
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