The provincial government is training private doctors and laboratory technicians to provide free treatment and diagnoses facilities to people infected with tuberculosis (TB) in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
The initiative has been taken by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and National Tuberculosis Control Programme in collaboration with the Public Private Mix (PPM) programme of the World Health Organization. Addressing an awareness seminar titled ‘Fighting TB Together’ on Friday, PPM Provincial Coordinator Saeed Abid said they had trained around 200 doctors and 50 laboratory technicians in 11 districts of the province, who will provide free of charge medicines and diagnosis facilities.
Saeed said that 40,000 people were affected from TB annually in K-P alone. He added that 231 out of every 100,000 people in the country had contracted TB, making Pakistan have the sixth highest number of TB patients in the world.
Dr Maqood Ali Khan, technical focal person for the provincial TB control programme, said 1,000 centres in the province have given free treatment to over 36,000 patients while 230 centres are providing diagnosis facilities for TB.
“The success ratio of patient treatment in K-P is 95%, higher than other provinces,” said Dr Maqood, adding that the rate would improve once private hospitals were included in the programme and more awareness had been raised. Dr Maqood further said a state-of-the-art TB Resistance Laboratory was established in Hayatabad Medical Complex that is treating Multidrug Resistance TB. It is a dangerous type of TB which is developed when patients do not get treatment on time. The treatment for the disease is very costly.
Dr Fazal Khan from the National TB Control Programme said that people aged 15-35 were mostly affected by TB. Symptoms become visible when a person’s immunity level decreases. TB is an infection primarily affecting the lungs that is caused by bacteria called micro-bacterium tuberculoses. It is generally spread through breathing in the same space as an infected person through close contact.
The main symptoms include weakness, weight loss, night sweats, coughing for more than two weeks and chest pain. Medical experts recommend consulting hospitals and TB centres for a diagnosis. The government is providing eight months free-of-cost treatment in all major hospitals and a number of other centres in the country.
According to the World Health Organisation Tuberculosis Report 2012, 8.7 million people contracted TB in 2011 across the world, with 1.4 million cases being fatal. TB is one of the top killers of women worldwide and killed 0.5 million women last year.