World Tuberculosis Day: TB programme at risk as financier to pack-up soon

Published: March 24, 2015


PESHAWAR: The tuberculosis (TB) control programme, undertaken by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa health department, is at risk as the chief financer of the campaign is likely to bow out in five months.

Department officials fear the number of TB patients in the province will rise following the departure of German government-owned development bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). While talking to The Express Tribune, a health official said as of 2014, the total TB count in K-P stood at 45,369 people, including 520 multidrug resistant (MDR) patients. He said the donor agency launched the programme in 2004, providing Rs6 million per annum for five years; the amount was raised to Rs8 million 2010 onwards.

The official said another international organisation, The Global Fund, is assisting the Pakistani governmental organisation Association for Community Development (ACD) but the departure of KfW will have serious consequences, especially for MDR patients.

“There is a difference between direct and indirect funding,” said a TB control programme official, adding the agreement with KfW ended in November 2014 but an extension was made for another 9 months.

The official said there are ample TB drugs available for the current year but an acute shortage is expected once KfW packs up in August. He said in the past the ACD has treated 800 MDR patients at different centres, including Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar, Ayub Teaching Hospital, Abbottabad and Mufti Mehmood Memorial Teaching Hospital, DI Khan.

A total of 22 diagnostic and 810 treatment centres are currently catering to TB patients in K-P, with 27 and 76 in the provincial capital respectively. Around 0.3 million people are diagnosed with TB in Pakistan every year and experts claim if directly observed therapy (DOT) for patients is conducted on a routine basis, the disease can be eradicated from the country by 2050.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2015.

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