Around 550,000 TB patients die annually while 165,000 are missed every year in Pakistan”



Government is committed taking all possible measures to implement the international declaration to control Tuberculosis (TB) and tracing the missing cases, speakers said on Wednesday.

An official said that around 550,000 patients suffering from TB annually die in the country while 165,000 are missed every year. 

Parliamentary secretary for National Health Services (NHS) Dr Nausheen Hamid addressing to a ceremony held here said that government will take all possible measures to implement the declaration in the United Nations’ High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis Control through all resources at its disposal and work towards its ending in Pakistan by 2030.

She also said that the government will increase its health budget in more rational terms emphasising on all elements of primary health care including preventive programmes and overall health system strengthening.

Dr  Nosheen Hamid pointed out that all the human rights of TB patients will be protected and called for a cross-sectoral approach in which increased synergy among the various sectors relevant to health and development would be promoted and fragmented interventions avoided.

She stressed that the government, which had come to power through an election manifesto based on human development, was engaged in an intrinsic action across the board to make governmental organisations increasingly and publicly accountable for their actions in planning, prioritising and implementing pragmatic public health policies and programmes that facilitate the attainment of universal health coverage and preventing the further spread of TB as well as by tracing the missing cases who do not access government facilities.

She highlighted that the government had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child which obligated it to take appropriate measures to diminish infant and child mortality; combat disease and malnutrition.

Her ministry would also ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with an emphasis on the integration of all primary health care elements such as inter-sectoral collaboration and community participation.

She also called for addressing TB and HIV together in light of the human rights dimensions and looked forward to actively working in tandem with the Ministry of Human Rights.

Earlier in his welcome address, Brig Dr Amir Ikram Executive Director NIH and National Coordinator, Common Management Unit for AIDS, TB and Malaria pointed out the need to promote and support an end to stigma and all forms of discrimination, by removing discriminatory laws, policies and programmes against people with tuberculosis, and through the protection and promotion of human rights and dignity.

He hoped that by recognizing the various socio-cultural barriers to tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment services, especially for those who are vulnerable or in vulnerable situations, the managers would develop integrated, people-centred, community-based and gender-responsive health services based on human rights.

Brig  Ikram maintained that the relevant health programmes were promoting a rights-based approach to TB care in Pakistan to build on the key targets and commitments of the UN High-Level Meeting, based on a multi-sectoral accountability framework.

Dr Syed Karam Shah Senior Adviser of the Stop TB Partnership emphasized that currently there is an increasing recognition that public health and human rights are complementary and mutually reinforcing approaches to human well-being and development.

He stressed that the potential of human rights to contribute to advancing global health objectives, such as TB treatment and cure has, however, only recently begun to be explored.

He hoped that this timely workshop will heighten interest in exploring human rights as a potentially useful avenue for public health workers to tackle the challenges posed by one of the world’s biggest killers.

Dr Shah recognized that in Health Research, human rights have implications for decisions on how data is collected and if disaggregated by age, sex and locality can directly influence the policies and programmes put into place while detecting discrimination and taking remedial action.

Pointing out that globally TB is the greatest single infectious cause of death in young women, he noted that while fewer women than men are diagnosed with TB, a greater percentage of women die of it and the stigma attached to having TB falls far more heavily on women.