1,700 centers nationwide offer free TB diagnosis, treatment: Health Secretary

ISLAMABAD: The government is firmly committed to fighting tuberculosis (TB) in Pakistan, offering free diagnosis and treatment at 1700 centers across the country, said Federal Secretary of Health Iftikhar Ali Shallwani.

Speaking at the Union Conference on Lung Health in Paris, Shallwani mentioned that the Government has allocated significant resources for the diagnosis and quality treatment of the disease. The Government has pledged $33 million for this cause, supporting 1,700 state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment facilities across Pakistan.

Shallwani emphasized that the Government of Pakistan is firmly dedicated to eradicating tuberculosis (TB), and comprehensive efforts are underway towards this goal.

In the year 2022, more than 424,566 TB cases were effectively treated nationwide, with a treatment success rate of 94% compared to the TB cases reported in 2021. The diagnostic services comprise a network of 1,800 microscopy labs, 420 GeneXpert molecular diagnostics, 17 Culture labs, and 3 DST labs.

he Health Secretary revealed that 3,684 cases of Drug Resistant TB were registered for second-line anti-TB treatment, targeting an estimated 15,900 DR TB cases through 50 DRTB healthcare services.

He mentioned that a TB/HIV Collaboration included screening 61% of registered TB patients for their HIV status. Additionally, enrolled patients received social support in the form of cash incentives, totaling PKR 12,000 per month during their treatment.

It was conveyed that over 7,500 healthcare workers have undergone training through an online training course designed for both doctors and paramedics. The Federal Secretary of Health disclosed that the National TB Control Programme in Pakistan, with backing from the Global Fund, WHO, and other collaborators, is executing a national strategic plan (NSP) from 2020 to 2023 aimed at eradicating TB in the country. Additionally, an NSP for the years 2024-26 has been formulated.

The Global Fund has earmarked over USD 185 million for tuberculosis (TB) in Pakistan, coverin
g the implementation period from January 2024 to December 2026.

Looking ahead, there are plans to enhance the scale of rapid molecular diagnostics, increasing GeneXpert machines from 420 to 774 in the year 2024. Other initiatives include expanding Digital X-ray and Artificial Intelligence (AI) machines for TB diagnosis from 12 to 136, fortifying 37 Divisional Laboratories for epidemic preparedness with 25 high-tech PCR machines, digitizing Provincial and District supply chain management, and integrating with Universal Health Coverage by strengthening Primary Health Care. These are just a few of the many steps outlined toward the goal of eliminating TB