Pakistan’s Health Secretary Announces Comprehensive Efforts to Combat Tuberculosis

Islamabad, The Government of Pakistan has reaffirmed its strong commitment to eliminating tuberculosis (T.B.) in the country, as stated by Federal Secretary Health Iftikhar Ali Shallwani at the Union Conference on Lung Health in Paris. The government’s strategy includes substantial investment, extensive diagnostic and treatment facilities, and training of healthcare workers.

According to Press Information Department, Secretary Shallwani detailed the government’s allocation of $33 million towards the fight against T.B. He highlighted the existence of 1,700 state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment facilities across Pakistan that offer free services. In 2022, these centers successfully treated over 424,566 T.B. cases, with a treatment success rate of 94% for cases notified in 2021.

The diagnostic services network comprises 1,800 microscopy labs, 420 molecular diagnostics GeneXpert, 17 culture labs, and 3 DST labs. The secretary shared that 3,684 drug-resistant T.B. cases were enrolled for second-line treatment against an estimated 15,900 DR-TB cases through 50 dedicated healthcare services. In addition, TB/HIV collaboration initiatives have been implemented, including screening 61% of registered T.B. patients for HIV and providing social support in the form of PKR 12,000 per month during treatment.

More than 7,500 healthcare workers have received online training for T.B. care and management. The National TB Control Programme, with support from the Global Fund, WHO, and other partners, is executing a national strategic plan (NSP) 2020–2023 to end T.B. in Pakistan. Furthermore, the NSP for 2024-26 has been developed, with the Global Fund allocating over USD 185 million for T.B. for January 2024 to December 2026.

Looking ahead, plans include scaling up rapid molecular diagnostics, expanding the use of digital X-Ray and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for T.B. diagnosis, strengthening divisional laboratories for epidemic preparedness, digitalizing supply chain management, and integrating T.B. control efforts with Universal Health Coverage by strengthening primary healthcare.

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