Islamabad: (Parliament Times) Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Parvez Khattak launched the “Aao TB Mitao” movement in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A national campaign, Aao TB Mitao is implemented by the Indus Health Network. It was first launched in Karachi earlier this year, and is now expanding to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The movement aspires to free Peshawar and eventually KP from this disease which is curable and for which free-of-cost diagnosis and treatment can be made widely available. While addressing the audience and press, the Chief Minister said that the Aao TB Mitao movement is one step in the race towards ‘Naya KP’ and that private and public partners, the youth of KP, and civil society must participate in this movement in order to win the fight against TB.
TB is a contagious airborne disease that spreads from person to person through coughing. Each infectious patient can infect up to 10 persons a year, especially their closest family members. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that 10.4 million new TB cases occurred worldwide in 2015, of these there were 1.8 million deaths. Pakistan is one of the six countries that account for sixty per cent of new TB cases, ranking fifth amongst TB high-burden countries worldwide. In 2015, over 40,000 TB deaths were reported in Pakistan, making TB one of the leading infectious causes of deaths not only in Pakistan but worldwide.
In KP, each year approximately 60,000 new cases of TB are reported – but it is estimated that the actual number of TB cases occurring each year is higher and that many people, adults and children, spend years with the disease without reaching correct diagnosis and appropriate care. Aao TB Mitao aims to search for missing patients of TB, by increasing access to TB diagnostic testing and treatment. The movement will be launched in Peshawar and extend to Swabi, Karak, D.I.Khan, Nowshera and Lakki Marwat.
The KP Minister of Health, Mr. Shahram Khan Tarakai announced during the launch, that the Government of KPK has approved a plan worth 283 million rupees for TB control in the province through which free medicines and TB services will continue to be available to the people of KP.
In addition, Aao TB Mitao will invest in technology and programs based on the best evidence available globally to help reduce the prevalence of TB. Vans fitted with state-of-the-art digital x-rays and software that helps to identify chest abnormalities have been sourced for KP. The vans will provide easy, safe, high quality, free of cost access to chest x-rays to screen the population for TB. In his address, Secretary Health KP, Mr. Muhammad Abid Majeed explained that x-ray vans will reach those who cannot themselves reach TB care and diagnostics by screening at hospitals, schools, communities, factories, jails, bazaars, mosques and other such settings.
The Secretary Health further declared that as part of the Aao TB Mitao initiative, Peshawar is being declared a ‘Zero TB’ city. Zero TB is a global initiative under which cities undertake to significantly reduce the prevalence of TB in a short time by introducing comprehensive ‘Search, Treat, and Prevent’ strategies.
Under this initiative, ‘active case finding’ will be introduced at 8 hospitals in Peshawar to pro-actively screen adults for TB using chest x-rays and symptom screening. Cutting edge and free GeneXpert tests will now be available in Peshawar and at diagnostic centres in Karak, DI Khan, and Lakki Marwat for more accurate and speedy diagnosis of TB. The machine provides results for each sample in two hours.
Child TB screening, diagnostics and care will be offered at 6 hospitals in Peshawar. Specialized staff will be placed at these hospitals to correctly identify TB, which in children can easily be confused with other ailments. Diagnostics for child TB will also be improved in the private sector through training of private general practitioners in national guidelines on Child TB.
Special ultra-violet lights for airborne infection control will be installed at major health institutes in Peshawar to protect health service providers and others from infection. Thousands of school girls called ‘Kiran Sitara’ are being trained to help identify TB symptoms in their neighbourhoods and to help motivate communities to access Aao TB Mitao health services. Most importantly, medicine is being made available to families of patients with TB. Families are exposed to the TB infection but may not yet have developed TB disease. The drugs can address the TB infection early on and protect families from developing TB disease.
A hotline number – 111-111-982 is available for anyone to call and get more information about TB and the Aao TB Mitao movement.