Karachi: The province of Sindh has a tuberculosis (TB) burden of 120,000 new cases every year. Amongst these, only 60% of the cases are provided with treatment and are mainly cured with the remaining 40%, approximately 48,000 cases, missed or are not notified in the health system.
Owing to the current alarming situation, the Sindh Health Department has decided to nominate Badin as the model district to initiate the process led by an exclusive focal point based in the health office at the provincial level. The Deputy Commissioner of Badin is set to mobilize the support of all line departments at the district level and give them tangible activities to perform on the basis of which they could contribute to the positive outcomes.
This was shared by the health and population minister of Sindh, Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, and other health experts while hosting a meeting organized jointly by the Stop TB, Pakistan and the DOPASI Foundation with the support of Stop TB Partnership in Karachi.
The meeting was attended by senior officers from the departments of Planning and Development, Finance, Education, Population Welfare, Environment, Information, Livestock & Fisheries, Local Government and Rural Development, Women’s Development, Health, as well as other senior officers of the federal government.
A high-level Global Fund international mission, USAID, Japanese Consulate, Mercy Corps, JSI, Bridge Consultants, Pakistan Chest Society, Philanthropists, and several pharmaceutical company representatives were also in attendance.
Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho informed that the necessary funds would be mobilized from domestic funding to ensure that the current funding crunch did not constitute an impediment in the attainment of the objectives.
She advised all the social sector departments and health development partners to make concerted efforts and support the health department to rid the province of this menace and contribute to fulfilling the international obligations of Pakistan.
The minister continued to inform that a Parliamentary Caucus is being formed for the attainment of the crucial Sustainable Development Goal relating to achieving universal health coverage, of which TB control would also be an integral part.
Dr Pechuho further expressed her interest in integrating all health information systems of the vertical programs in health and directed that a separate session should be held on this subject.
Sharing TB case burden details in Sindh, Dr Syed Karam Shah presented a blueprint of the proposed multi-sectoral responsibility framework and how its implementation can help in finding the missing TB cases.
Dr. Werner Buehler, Country Portfolio Manager of the Global Fund, pointed out that his organization was providing the bulk of the funding for TB, HIV, and Malaria control funding in the country which might not be possible beyond 2020. Therefore, indigenous financing was the way forward. He lauded the initiative by the Government of Sindh.
Dr. Enrica Fantini, Partnership Officer, Stop TB, also welcomed the steps outlined by the Sindh government assuring that the Stop TB Partnership would provide support to the program.