PESHAWAR - Experts at a seminar said Tuesday that the Tuberculoses (TB) was the biggest public health problem in the country as Pakistan ranked fifth among high burden TB countries in the world.

They said some 50,000 new TB cases surfaced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa every year.

The seminar was conducted in Peshawar to commemorate Dr Robert Koch’s discovery of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes TB.

Dr Koch’s discovery was a milestone towards controlling the deadly disease.

Special Secretary Health, Mohammad Akbar, Director General Health Services, Dr Sharif Ahmad Khan, Project Director of TB Control Programme, Dr Ubaid Hussain, Dr Arshad Javed, Chief Executive Lady Reading Hospital and others addressed the seminar.

The seminar was attended by the representatives of Health Department, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, National TB Control Programme, tertiary care and parasitical hospitals, donor agencies and implementing partners of the Provincial TB Control Programme, experts on TB and chest diseases, community representatives, teachers, students, TB patients and media personnel.

Commending the efforts of the TB Control Programme, Secretary Health Akbar Khan appraised the forum that Provincial TB Control Programme had achieved the targets of case detection rate of 68 per cent and treatment success rate of 94 per cent, which were in line with the World Health Organisation’s recommendations.

“Yet achieving the targets is not an end of the journey rather a commitment that we still need to go a long way to control the menace,” he added.

He said the availability of anti-TB drugs and trained and motivated human resource at the diagnostic and treatment centres were encouraging but to sustain the achieved targets, we must continue with the same spirit and improve the quality of services.

Speaking of the key achievements made by the programme, Dr Sharif Ahmad Khan, Director General Health Services Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, informed the audience that health Department had initiated TB Control Programme in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since 2002 and today. He said they had 228 Basic Management Units (Diagnostic centres) and 810 functional treatment centres all over the province.

“Quality assured anti-TB drugs and diagnostic facilities are being provided free of cost,” he added.

He said in 2012, the TB Control Programme Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was able to register 35,848 patients with 94 per cent treatment success rate.

The World Health Organisation has estimated about 1,500 cases of Multi Drug Resistance (MDR-TB) annually in the province.

“The Programme’s target is to enhance the capacity of public and private sectors to detect and manage 80 per cent of the estimated smear positive MDR-TB incident cases by 2015,” said Dr. Ubaid Hussain, Project Director, TB Control Program.

He informed that free of cost provision of anti-TB drugs had been initiated to TB patients seeking treatment from private health clinics in the selected districts.