Govt. shares lofty goal of reducing one-third of TB cases by 2025
To reduce tuberculosis (TB) cases by 70%, the government has decided to draw up a 10-year plan to fight this disease and it has employed the help of private sector healthcare industry for effective results.
The National TB Program manager, Dr Ejaz Qadeer, said that 300,000 people, including up 15,000 children, are diagnosed with TB annually. The program, which is worth $900 million, would also assist those who spend 25 percent of their income on medicine and treatment.
According to Qadeer, private hospitals, clinics and general physicians would be provided with laboratory equipment for better TB diagnoses and training of their staff.
Qadeer has noted that about two billion people around the world carry the TB virus, and Pakistan is ranked fourth highest among countries with the most of number of patients for this disease. At any given point during a patient’s life, he/she can transfer the virus to over 100 people. The virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted while breathing, coughing or sneezing.
Dr. Abdul Ghafoor, National TB Program advisor, has said that each patient receives a six-month long treatment and approximately Rs7,000 are spent on one patient each month. Those patients who are not regular in taking their medicine may become Multiple Drug Resistant (MDR) TB patients.
He said that it becomes more expensive to treat these MDR TB patients as “the virus they carry is immune to the medicine.” Approximately Rs500,000 worth of medicine are needed for their treatment.
Rs600 are allocated as social support to each MRD TB patient to cover their expenses of visiting a hospital or treatment center.
The Global Fund to Fight Aida, Tuberculosis and Malaria has contributed greatly for this program and bout 20 to 30 percent of the funds will come from the government of Pakistan.