LAHORE - Like other parts of the globe, World Tuberculosis Day will be observed across the country on Monday (today) to raise awareness on the drastic effects of the deadly diseases.

Seminars, walks and medical camps will be organised both at the government and private levels to raise awareness about the disease, early diagnosis and treatment.

This year’s theme focuses on the missed three million cases that are not detected globally and present a threat to disease control efforts.

World TB Day has been designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis remains an epidemic in much of the world causing the deaths of several million people each year mostly in developing countries.

The Day is commemorated when in 1882 Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis the TB bacillus. At the time of Koch’s announcement in Berlin TB was raging through Europe and America causing death of one out of every seven people. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.

Pakistan stands 5th among the 22 high-burden countries that together account for 80% of the world’s estimated incident cases. Pakistan accounts for over 60% of the TB burden in WHO's Eastern Mediterranean region, which comprises of 23 counties. In case of multi-drug resistant (MDR) Tuberculosis, the country is projected as having the fourth highest burden globally. With a population of 183 million, it is currently estimated that there are around 700,000 TB patients of all types in Pakistan, while every year 420,000 new persons develop TB with an estimated incidence of 231/100,000 population.

The National and Provincial TB Control Programs succeeded in detecting 72% of all new TB cases and 64% of new sputum smear positive TB cases during 2013 while achieving a high treatment success rate of 91%. The programs have detected and successfully treated more than 2 million cases since 2001 when the National TB Control Program was revived. In addition DR-TB management has been started at eight pilot sites with the support of the Global Fund to fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM), and childhood and difficult to diagnose TB case management has started through piloting in 30 district headquarter hospitals and 27 tertiary care hospitals. The programs are yet facing formidable challenges.

Meanwhile, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has expressed concern that Pakistan continues to be ranked between 5th to 6th among the World’s high Tuberculosis risk countries and urged the provincial governments and health officials to redouble their efforts and rid the fellow countrymen of the disease.

In his message on the World Tuberculosis Day being observed tomorrow around the globe, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said he was alarmed by the media reports more than 80% of new Tuberculosis cases were reported from Punjab alone.

He pointed out that Tuberculosis is the second most devastating disease in the world killing humans hence need due attention by the decision-makers in every province. He also specifically stressed upon Sindh government to further improve treatment facilities for Tuberculosis patients and measures for its prevention.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said as a nation whose Founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah died of Tuberculosis should act in revolutionary style to wipe out the disease.

polio Campaign starts: Punjab Health Department will launch a three-day anti-polio campaign throughout the province from today (Monday). The drive will conclude on March 26 and March 27-28 revisiting days when drops will be administered to those who were missed during the drive.

According to a spokesman of Health Department, polio drops would be administered to 17.5 million children up to the age of five years during anti-polio drive. Children will also be given Vitamin A capsules. The health department has constituted 39,000 teams. He said the department had made special arrangements for administering polio drops to the children at entry points, including toll plazas, railway stations, bus stands and airports, besides at all government hospitals, health centres and vaccination centres.

He said that about 80,000 officials and health workers of Health Department were participating in this campaign. The spokesman said that mobile teams would visit houses to administer polio vaccine to the children and the department had taken measures for strict monitoring of the teams.

The health department has appealed to parents to administer polio vaccine to their children by mobile teams or nearby health centres to save them from permanent disability as well as eliminate this disease from the country.