ISLAMABABD (PRESS RELEASE)
Federal Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar said that all resources to be mobilized to fight TB and Pakistan is committed to end TB by 2030 in line SDGs. While she was addressing TB world day seminar today in Islamabad. Minister reiterated in the strongest terms that by the grace of Allah Almighty we are equal to the challenge and there has been significant effort made by the Federal Government with support of the Provincial Governments to stop TB in the last few years. She said TB Control Program is one of the best performing public health programs in the country. Free TB diagnostic and treatment services are available in more than 1700 public and private sector facilities across Pakistan. In 2016, around 69% of the estimated incident TB cases were notified and put on treatment. More than 90% of the TB patients notified are successfully treated. More than 120 advanced diagnostic facilities and 32 specialized treatment facilities have been established across the country for free of cost early diagnosis and treatment for MDR TB patients. In 2016 alone, 366,000 TB cases were notified and enrolled on treatment. Minister further said that we have a strong cooperation and partnership with the private sector. Today more than 3500 General Practitioners, 125 NGO health centres, 2,000 Pharmacies, 35 private hospitals and 45 Para-statal hospitals in 88 districts are engaged in TB control. It is noteworthy that private sector is contributing towards 28 percent of total TB case notification in the country. Moreover, we are working closely with Pakistan Pediatric Association to control childhood TB in the country. Cognizant of the risk of TB-HIV co-infection, 40 Sentinel Sites have been established for screening and early diagnosis of TB-HIV co-infection in geographical areas having documented concentrated HIV epidemics. Minister shared that for MDR TB Pakistan has treatment success rate of 65 percent which is higher than average global success rate. It was in this context that in 2016 Pakistan was recognized with TB Champion Award. Major strides have been made in improving access and quality of TB care. However there is more work to be done. Factors such as malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation, compounded by other risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use and diabetes contribute to the problem. Minister said Pakistan stands with the Global community in the fight against TB and is fully committed to end the TB epidemic by 2030 as envisaged in the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals, World Health Organization End TB Strategy, Stop TB Partnership Global Plan to End TB. Pakistan is also signatory to the WHO Moscow declaration and agreed to end TB in the sustainable development era. Minister said hosting a high level regional conference on TB in May this year and our Health and Population Think Tank with national and international experts is meeting tomorrow in Islamabad to deliberate the way forward in meeting remaining challenges in TB Control. World TB Day aims to raise the public’s awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. The heaviest burden is carried by vulnerable groups such as women, children, older people, migrants, refugees, prisoners, ethnic minorities, miners and people working and living in risk-prone settings. The current situation warrants an urgent action by gearing up the efforts to find missing TB cases. We are advocating strongly for enhancing domestic investment in TB. I have taken up the matter with the Prime Minister and the Provincial leaderships. We must expand public private partnerships and adopt multi-sectoral approach involving Education, agriculture, housing, social welfare, and others. The role of the Media for awareness, addressing stigma, information about available free services is critical. Earlier before the Minister’s remarks, the seminar started with a brief by Dr. Nasir Manager National TB Control Program explaining the current situation of TB and the current challenges we are facing in the fight against this disease. Missing TB cases was the biggest threat and he stressed on the need for Inter-sectoral collaboration to find these missing cases. ‘We cannot defeat the menace of this disease without the collaboration of all the sectors of the society i.e. housing, food, environment, social welfare etc’ he said. Team Leader Dr. Jacob Creswell STOP TB Partnership and WHO Additional Director General Dr. MinghuiRen shared the global and regional scenario of TB and the need of domestic funding to narrow the funding gap. ‘About 10.4 million cases of TB occur each year all around the World 1.8 Million die from the disease’ said Dr. Ren. He also stressed on the importance of integration of HIV and TB services in order to better serve the needs of people with co-infections. A declaration by all provincial managers of TB Control Program was signed at the seminar reiterating the commitments made by honourable minster at the Moscow conference in 2017. By signing the declaration, they committed to: Advancing TB response in the SDG agenda, Ensuring sustainable financing, Pursuing research, and multi-sectorial collaborations to end TB.