250,000 ANNUAL ADDITION TO TB PATIENTS IN PAKISTAN

KANWAL SALEEM
Apr 07 - 13, 2008

LAHORE: Every year on March 24 'World Tuberculosis Day' is celebrated around the globe including Pakistan in a bid to create awareness among the people about the disease, however, the alarming fact is that the burden of disease is increasing particularly in the developing countries.

This year, the day was celebrated around the world including Pakistan with the theme "I am stopping TB'.

In Pakistan, seminars, workshops, walks, scientific sessions and awareness programmes were held to mark the day in which speakers highlighted the disease and called for evolving a foolproof mechanism for detection recognition of the TB patients.

Analysts say about 60,000 Tuberculosis patients die of TB and another 250,000 are added to the pool of the TB patient every year in Pakistan. One patient dies of TB every 20 second in the world. Therefore, the country needs to tackle the menace of disease on an emergency basis. Though many steps are being taken by the government but more effort is needed on the part of the NGO'S and the public at large to eradicate the disease from the country.

In Lahore, Pakistan Medical Society (PMS) in collaboration with the WHO and Directorate General of Health Punjab organised a ''National Seminar'' to mark the day. WHO's Operation Officer in Punjab, Mr. Asmatullah Chaudhry, Director Health Services, Punjab, Dr Zia ur Rehman, Pakistan Medical Society Chairman Dr Masood Akhtar Sheikh, National TB control Programme Officer Dr Asim, WHO Sociologist Mr. Anwar Chaudhry, Provincial TB Programme Officer Dr Zakia and others spoke on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Asmatullah Chaudhry said that tuberculosis is alarmingly increasing in the developing countries, where the food sanitation & treatment facilities are still at the stage of improvement. ''The entire society can fall victim of the disease in the presence of even few case that can turn into an epidemic if appropriate and concrete steps are not taken to check it," he said.

Dr Zia Ur Rehman said that today one person is dying of TB every 20 second. It has become the biggest fatal disease in some of the countries. Every country has to design its own means and ways to control the disease keeping in view the global TB control initiative, the government has set up 498 diagnostic centres and 2700 treatment centres where the facility of free diagnosis and treatment is being offered.

Dr Masood Akhtar Sheikh said that many myths are associated with TB; the fact is that it is not a genetically transmitted disease, and it leaves no effect once the patient has been cured of the disease. ''More than 90% of our population has a primary TB at childhood, that is cured spontaneously, but the mycobacterium stay in some of the lymph nodes in the lungs and can reactivate from inside at times of decrease immunity," he added.

He said that in time vaccination of children with BCG could prevent the most dreaded form of TB like TB meningitis. He said that many nations have reduced the TB ratio long before the invention of the TB drugs, by merely adhering to the principals of the general hygiene.

Dr Masood said that there is no need of setting up the TB hospital as has been thought by many peoples as the treatment of the TB is mainly home based and directly observed treatment therapy is the best available method worldwide.

Mr Anwar Chaudhry said that awareness about the TB improvement, timely diagnosis and treatment was necessary to control the disease. The history of the disease is as old as the human history. Half a century back the disease was incurable, but now it is 100% curable. We are targeting to control the disease by the year 2015, he pointed out.

Dr Asim of provincial TB program said that awareness about the disease is vital for not only those living in the cities, and towns but also those among the rural population. One of the objectives of celebrating the TB Day at the global level is to eradicate the disease from the world completely, he said.

Dr Zakia said that regular and in time treatment cost only a few hundred rupees per month but one could have to spend thousand of rupees in case of negligence and irregularities.

Dr Irfan Mahboob said that the TB could affect any part of human body including bone. One person can spread disease to 10-15 persons in his life time thus it is very important that the open cases should be diagnosed and treated in time to stop the rest of the population from being contracted.