Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar Addressing at a National Seminar with Stakeholders in connecting with World TB Day 2015

March 25, 2015

 Islamabad, the 25th March, 2015:-             Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulation & Coordination, Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar said Pakistan is having the 4th highest incidence in the world which does not occupy an enviable position with regard to Tuberculosis. The key to controlling TB is to raise awareness about its symptoms and encourage sufferers to seek treatment which is available free of cost. It is to ensure that patients follow the full course of medication for the prescribed period. Also, tuberculosis carries social stigma, which is a major obstacle for treatment. Public education and building awareness can help prevent a deepening epidemic. While She was addressing the a seminar on March 25, 2015, at Aiwan-e-Quaid, Nazriya Pakistan Council, F-9 Park, Islamabad to commemorate World TB Day 2015, organized by National TB Control Program (NTP), Ministry of National Health Services Regulation & Coordination   She also said that the Government of Pakistan is making concerted efforts to control TB in Pakistan. However, we know that information about TB symptoms and treatment is at low levels in the country. I believe that we as a nation can help in disseminating such information regarding tuberculosis among our communities. By doing so, we can help in saving the lives of thousands of people who die of TB every year.   She said I would also like to reinforce that TB is a curable disease and Government of Pakistan is providing free of cost treatment services throughout Pakistan. We always hear that “Prevention is better than Cure “but in TB Treatment of TB is the prevention of TB also and this is the message to be given to the community. She extended her greetings and good wishes to all those who are in forefront in fighting this menace to the health of our citizens. 

She also mentioned the major achievements during the last six months: ·
More than 1.5 million TB patients have been diagnosed and treated free of cost with quality assured anti TB drugs in both public and private sector across the country since 2001 through a network of 1500 quality assured microscopy centers and  4000 treatment centers.  This network is expanding gradually to ensure accessibility of TB care services to every TB patient in Pakistan. 
300,000 TB cases were notified to National TB Control Program and Treatment Success Rate remained at 91% during 2013.
o   5886 MDR-TB patients were enrolled since June 2010 to December 2014 in 24 PMDT sites 
o   3435 patients are still under/on treatment by the end of December 2014 
o   Ten hospitals have been assessed for infection control and up-gradation plan has been developed to implement infection control measures to reduce the risk of transmission   
o   100% DR-TB patients are getting social support to ensure treatment adherence and increase treatment success. 
o   Agreement has been signed with GDF/IDA for the procurement of GLC approved Second Line Drugs (SLDs) 
TB Laboratory Network 
o   National TB Control Program provides free of cost services for the diagnosis of sensitive and drug resistant TB 
o   There are around 1400 peripheral microscopy centres, including > 200 centres in the private sector, performing the diagnosis of TB by sputum examination. The Xpert testing for the rapid diagnosis of Drug Resistant TB is being performed at 43 sites in the country and there are plans for further expansion by NTP. The Culture /DST network is being expanded to provide diagnostic support for programmatic management of Drug resistant TB in the country. Currently there are 4 labs performing both Culture/DST services while follow up monitoring is performed at 9 culture labs in the country.   

She said that I am very confident that with the support of my colleagues, international and national organizations and leading members of our community, we shall not only succeed in controlling the disease of tuberculosis but may also reduce it to a level where it is not a public health issue.   

The Minister of State requested media personnel to play their role in disseminating message on TB as complete information can help in saving the lives of thousands of people who die of TB every year. She also added that continuous efforts are needed to decrease number of TB cases in Pakistan.