ISLAMABAD: Terming tuberculosis an infectious disease with the largest body count in the country, the federal Health minister on Wednesday said that the government is launching the ‘Tuberculosis-Free Pakistan Initiative’ to eradicate the disease.
Addressing a seminar in Islamabad on Wednesday to formally launch the initiative, Federal Health Minister Aamer Mehmood Kiani said that his ministry has been providing a clear and strategic direction to overcome this menace throughout the country.
He further said that the National Strategic Plan for 2017-2020 highlights priority action areas in line with the End TB Strategy. He explained that the plan and the strategy are intended to provide momentum, strategic depth and a mutually shared vision for ongoing efforts for TB control and ultimately leading to a TB-free Pakistan by 2030.
In this regard, Kiani said that they strengthened the End TB initiative by adopting values of good governance, provision of high-quality services, equity and a pro-poor approach with transparency and accountability.
Moreover, he claimed that the government was trying to developing a holistic approach with integration and cross-sectoral linkages, as stated in the Declaration of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis.
“The declaration is being strictly pursued by Pakistan,” he stated. The health minister further added that the successful implementation of the End TB initiative was strongly linked with effective coordination and collaboration with the provincial health departments, which need to develop linkages with the other social sectors at the provincial and district level.
In this regard, he said that it was imperative that all provincial governments undertake the necessary steps for setting the End TB initiative into motion, through indigenous funding for TB control mechanisms and programmes while engaging for the required multi-sectoral collaboration.
The health minister also emphasised the critical role of the private sector in combating the disease and stressed that they need, to join hands with the government for a more robust push against TB.
Elaborating on the anti-TB plan, Kiani said that 6,500 facilities public and private healthcare establishments were offering free TB diagnostic and treatment services in the country.
“We are aware of the costs that TB patients have to bear and are doing our best to reduce their challenges,” he added.
The health ministry has made it their priority was to treat the 200,000-drug-sensitive TB cases and 27,000 drug-resistant TB cases that go undetected annually. “The government recognises that a healthy population is essential for developing a skilled workforce which has the capacity to take on the enormous challenges facing the country,” he outlined.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2019.