islamabad- The government has established 119 tuberculosis treatment centres to ensure provision of best medical facility to the affected population throughout the country.

According to an official of National TB Control Programme, 30 TB resistance centres were also functioning with registered patients of 10,000, where deserving patients were being provided medicines and financial support. He said that total registered TB patients were 330,000 while an estimated 600,000 people were suffering from this disease in the country.

The incidence of TB per 100,000 population in Pakistan is 181, case notification per 100,000 per year is 150 while the treatment success rate is 85 per cent. He said that more than 700,000 TB patients have been treated free of charge and 100 per cent latest treatment methodology of DOTS coverage is achieved in the country. He said that training and health education materials have been developed and all health care providers concerned have been trained. He said external quality assurance for sputum microscopy is implemented in 40 districts of the country while five reference laboratories have been established, one at federal level and one each at the provincial level.

Medical expert Dr Wasim Khawaja from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said that tuberculosis is caused by bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable, he added.

He said that TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air and a person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.

He said that about one-third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease. He said that people infected with TB bacteria have a 10% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. However, persons with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or people who use tobacco, have a much higher risk of falling ill.

Dr Sharif Astori from Federal Government Poly Clinic (FGPC) said that when a person develops active TB disease, the symptoms such as cough, fever, night sweats, or weight loss may be mild for many months.

This can lead to delays in seeking care, and results in transmission of the bacteria to others. He said that people with active TB can infect 10 to 15 other people through close contact over the course of a year. He said tuberculosis mostly affects adults in their most productive years; however, all age groups are at risk. He said that people who are infected with HIV are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop active TB and the risk of active TB is also greater in persons suffering from other conditions that impair the immune system.

He said that common symptoms of active lung TB are cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.

 

He added many countries still rely on a long-used method called sputum smear microscopy to diagnose TB.

He said that trained laboratory technicians look at sputum samples under a microscope to see if TB bacteria are present. Microscopy detects only half the number of TB cases and cannot detect drug resistance, he added

He said that the use of the rapid test expert MTB/RIF has expanded substantially since 2010, when WHO first recommended its use. Diagnosis can be made within two hours and the test is now recommended by WHO as the initial diagnostic test in all persons with signs and symptoms of TB.