Islamabad: Around six hundred thousand people contract tuberculosis (TB) every year in Pakistan but over 45 per cent TB patients in the country remain undiagnosed and do not get any treatment. Such people are a major source of the spread of the disease in the country.
This was said at an awareness session held on Saturday at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) Ojha Campus, Karachi, which was organised in collaboration with the Sindh TB Control Program in connection with World TB Day 2023 that will be observed on March 24.
Health experts at the awareness session said a majority of the people of Pakistan were not aware about signs and symptoms of TB and many of the people who contracted the infectious disease were not aware of its treatment facilities where the disease was diagnosed and free treatment offered.
They maintained that lack of awareness was a major hurdle in the elimination of TB from the country.
The event started with a walk attended by doctors, DUHS faculty members and medical students as well as common people who carried placards and banners inscribed with awareness messages regarding TB.
Speaking on the occasion, DUHA Faculty of Medicine Dean Prof Dr Iftikhar Ahmed said the biggest issue in the management and elimination of TB in Pakistan was undiagnosed patients as around 250,000 to 300,000 people contracted TB every year without it getting into the notice of their families and the government. He added that the undiagnosed patients continued to spread the infectious disease in the country.
“In order to eliminate and control this disease, we need to create awareness among the people. TB is a treatable disease if it is diagnosed early and the patients get the recommended treatment under the supervision of qualified healthcare professionals,” Dr Ahmed said, adding that the media should create awareness about the disease among the people.
Dow International Medical College (DIMC) Principal Prof Zeba Haq stressed that everyone present at the event should take the responsibility of educating others about TB in to order to eradicate the disease.
The Sindh TB Control Program also held awareness activities throughout Sindh in connection with World TB Day 2023, which will be observed worldwide on March 24, but as it would be Ramazan then, awareness activities were organised in the province on Saturday.
According to Dr Abid Ali, project manager TB Program Sindh, free-of-charge TB diagnosis and treatment facilities are available in 30 districts of the province at 394 basic health management units where 114-Xpert machines are available.
He said 545 microscopy centres have also been established in the province.
He maintained that as HIV and TB go side by side, there are 201 sites in the province where HIV screening for the TB patients is carried out and those found infected with HIV are referred to ART centre for the treatment.