ISLAMABAD: Pakistan ranks fifth among the 22 high tuberculosis burden countries in the world, sharing 81 percent of the global disease burden.
According to available data, around 420,000 people develop active tuberculosis each year in Pakistan, and the country has a 65 percent case detection rate. It said that the remaining 35 percent of the total tuberculosis patients, around 147,000 people develop this disease each year but do not participate in the screening programme. It said that 35 percent patients remain undiagnosed and unmanaged in the country while tuberculosis is endemic and is one of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality.
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 and 15-20 years in lifetime of patient. A public health expert, Sobia Faisal, said that delays in the diagnosis of tuberculosis after the onset of related signs and symptoms, and inappropriate treatment result in mortality and long time morbidity. She said that the non-participation as well as 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 the community and also introduces a much dangerous form of disease which is drug resistant TB. In Pakistan, the National TB Control Programme is implementing WHO 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. Sobia said that TB is a treatable disease and the person who develops this would be 100 percent perfect and back to normal if he or she would undertake proper medication. She said that the patient must visit the doctor as soon as possible if having signs and symptoms, including cough that would not go away like more than two weeks, feeling tired all the time, weight loss, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, coughing up blood, and night sweats.
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