World TB Day: Pakistan ranks 5th with annual 623,000 new TB cases

M. Waqar Bhatti
Tuesday, Mar 05, 2024

ISLAMABAD: With around 623,000 new cases of Tuberculosis, including 15,000 cases of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB, annually Pakistan ranks 5th among high burden countries in the world, health officials said on Monday.

Speaking at a ceremony to observe World TB Day 2024, they said around 2.2 million people including children were living with TB in Pakistan, and it is a challenge to provide them free of charge diagnostic and treatment facilities.

“But the government is providing free TB diagnostic and treatment services in over 1500 public and private facilities, involving more than 15,000 general practitioners in TB control efforts”, Iftikhar Ali Shallwani, federal secretary health said while reaffirming government's commitment to combating tuberculosis (TB) by ensuring free diagnostic and treatment facilities across public and private health institutions.

Emphasising the scale of the challenge, Shallwani addressed the task of finding and treating 2.2 million individuals affected by TB, including children and those battling Drug-Resistant TB. Additionally, the government aims to administer TB preventive treatment to over 1.2 million people, reaffirming its dedication to preserving lives and safeguarding communities.

Dr Razia Kaniz Fatima, National Coordination for Coordination Management Unit, AIDS, TB, and Malaria, emphasised this year's World TB Day theme, highlighting the necessity for collective action, innovation and collaboration to accelerate progress towards eradicating TB as a public health menace.

Dr Muhammad Ahmed Kazi underscored the devastating impact of TB on individuals, families and communities, urging heightened political and social commitment to mitigate its burden. He acknowledged the tireless endeavours of healthcare workers, researchers, policymakers and communities worldwide in combating the ancient disease.