QUETTA: Member of Provincial Assembly and Adviser and Spokesperson to the Balochistan Chief Minister Bushra Rind has reiterated that the control of tuberculosis (TB) leading to the elimination of the disease by the year 2030 is no longer an option but an absolute necessity for Pakistan following our commitment to that goal at the United Nations last September and in view of the danger posed by the disease which claims between 50,000 and 60,000 lives each year in Pakistan.
Speaking at a World TB Day 2019 event organized by the DOPASI Organization for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the ‘Stop TB Partnership’, the Adviser pointed out that the grave TB situation in the country, particularly in the province of Balochistan, necessitated radical steps for its control and ultimate elimination, adding that the task was made more difficult by the fact that around 40% of the cases go unnoticed and therefore untreated.
The event at the Ayub Stadium in Quetta featured plenty of fanfare and began with the national anthem.
Bushra Rind also expressed her gratitude to the Dopasi Organization for its role in locating cases of tuberculosis in the high risk group of coal miners in five districts of Balochistan with the help of TB REACH.
She also appealed to all the social sector departments and health development partners to make joint and concerted efforts to support the provincial health department in order to rid Balochistan of the disease and thus contribute to the fulfillment of the country’s international obligations.
She promised to raise with the chief minister the issue of setting up a parliamentary caucus within the provincial assembly on the subject while also striving for the removal of the gender stigma attached with the disease, elaborating that, although TB was a curable disease like many others, women bore the brunt of it more than men and there was a need to bring about a change in unrealistic attitudes and societal perceptions about the disease. Women in Balochistan, she stressed, must be able to access the freely available TB services as and when necessary to ensure that there was no discrimination on the basis of gender.
Earlier, ‘Stop TB’ Ambassador and television personality Kanwal Naseer stressed the need for multi-sector efforts to combat the disease in line with the recommendations of the United Nations General Assembly.
Azhar Karam Shah and Kinzul Eman emphasized on the occasion that TB control must be treated as a human rights issue to ensure that each citizen received access to TB services regardless of discrimination. They also advocated equitable access to TB services, particularly for the marginalized population segments.
Quetta District Health Officer Dr Saeed Merwani also applauded the efforts of the Dopasi Organization for tuberculosis control in the province.
Chief guest Bushra Rind, Adviser to Dopasi Dr Ghulam Nabi Kazi and Dopasi Director Syed Azher Karam later gave away trophies, shields and certificates to the teams and principal organizers. All the participants also indicated that ‘It’s Time to End TB’ – the theme for this year’s World TB Day- by pointing to their watches. The chief guest also assured follow-up action to TB eradication efforts at the highest level in the province by nominating a provincial district for the establishment of a multi-sector accountability framework for tuberculosis control in consultation with the relevant authorities.