It is a sad fact that Pakistan is ranked as the fifth highest country in terms of high incidence of Tuberculosis (TB) and fourth in drug resistant TB globally.
However, this may soon all change as the 'novel findings of National University of Medical Sciences’ (NUMS) Scientist Dr Sidra Younis, in collaboration with Queen Mary University London (QMUL), in diagnosing latent tuberculosis infection, can become a milestone in addressing the root cause of TB prevalence across the country.
The international community will be commemorating World Tuberculosis Day on March 24 to raise public awareness about its devastating health and social impact.
Statistics state that of 570,000 people infected annually in Pakistan, about 42,000 die.
NUMS aims to address major health issues of Pakistan and TB is at the top of the list.
NUMS in collaboration with QMUL, has developed a novel diagnostic test for the non-symptomatic tuberculosis infection. Once validated and approved, this test can be a milestone towards eradicating the disease from high TB burden countries like Pakistan,” said NUMS Vice Chancellor Lt Gen Syed Muhammad Imran Majeed (retd), in his remarks about the research of Dr Sidra Younis, Assistant Prof, NUMS Department of Biological Sciences. Dr Sidra Younis
Her post doctorate research at QMUL in 2019, under the mentorship of Prof Adrian Martineau, led to a novel method for diagnosing latent TB infection.
The non-symptomatic form of TB is called latent TB infection. About one fourth of the world’s population is estimated to have latent TB infection.
To eradicate active TB it is very important to diagnose and treat the persons with latent TB infection.
The existing tests for the latent TB have less specificity and sensitivity.
Therefore, it is not possible to identify the group of people who are infected with latent TB. This research will help identify group of people with latent TB, who can be administered preventive therapy.
NUMS is targeting the root cause of the spread of this disease through research, said Dr Sidra whose findings have been published in an international journal, “The Lancet Microbe”, which publishes only novel findings.
WHO end TB strategy cannot be achieved until patients with latent Tuberculosis infection are identified and treated with preventive therapy. dna
Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2021.