420,000 Pakistanis develop tuberculosis each year

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ISLAMABAD: Around 420,000 people develop active tuberculosis each year in the country with 65% case detection rate.According to reports, the remaining 35% of tuberculosis patients which is around 147,000 develop the diseases but do not participate in the screening programme. It said that 35% patients remain undiagnosed and unmanaged in the country, while tuberculosis is endemic and is one of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality. Pakistan ranks fifth among the 22 high TB burden countries in world that share 81% of the global TB burden. The international research shows that the TB patients if remained untreated and unmanaged, two thirds of them would die within two to three years of disease onset. Similarly, such patients who remain untreated transfer disease to 10 individuals in a year.A public heath expert, Sobia Faisal, said that the delay in diagnosis of tuberculosis after the onset of related signs and symptoms, and inappropriate treatment result in mortality and longtime morbidity. She said that the non-participation as well as the delayed participation of TB suspects in tuberculosis control programme is a daunting challenge for the health authorities concerned. She added that these unmanaged TB cases cause spread of disease in community and also introduce much dangerous form of disease which is drug resistance TB.In Pakistan, the National TB Control Programme is implementing the WHO’s recommended DOTS strategy where diagnostic and treatment services including free medicines are given to all TB patients free of cost at government health facilities, she said. She said that some of the highly committed general practitioners all over country in collaboration with the TB control programme are giving free medication to the patients. Sobia said that TB is treatable disease, and the person who develops this would be 100 percent perfect and back to normal if he or she would takes proper medication. She said that the patient must visit doctor as soon as possible having signs and symptoms, including cough that would not go away for more than two weeks, feeling tired all the time, weight loss, loss of appetite, low grade fever, coughing up blood, and night sweats. She said that these symptoms can also occur with other types of lung disease so it is important to see a doctor and to let the doctor determine if the disease is present or not. She said that the patient is usually given a combination of several drugs for a specific period of time which depends on the type of TB and its resistance to drugs.The patient would probably begin to feel better only a few weeks after starting to take the drugs. It is very important, however, that the patient continues to take the medicine correctly for the advised full length treatment. Medical expert, Wasim Khawaja, from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said if the medicine is taken incorrectly or stopped, the patient may become sick again. He said that the multi-drug resistant TB is very dangerous, so patients should be sure that they take all of the medicine correctly. He said that some minor side effects of treatment such as reddish colour urine, nausea, abdominal pain, and itching of skin are very common and should not be worrisome.Wasim said that regular checkups are needed to see how treatment is progressing. He said that it is important for the people who are undergoing preventive therapy and people being treated for the disease to immediately let a doctor know if they begin having any unusual symptoms. If a family member has TB, other people living in the same house must have their sputum test for diagnosis of TB as it spreads through respiration, coughing, sneezing, he added. 

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