AKU - News and Events
 
News 2011
Eliminate TB Today

March 22, 2011

Tuberculosis is an ancient disease that is completely curable today – which is why in the 21st century, no one should die from TB said experts speaking at a seminar held at Aga Khan University to commemorate World TB Day on March 22.

“In Pakistan, there are approximately 700,000 cases of TB in the country and over 400,000 new cases are added every year. Worse, TB kills more women worldwide every year than all causes of maternal mortality combined,” said Dr Javaid Khan, Head, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, AKU. Failure to act today means that about 40 million people worldwide will become ill with TB and at least eight million will lose their lives to the disease between now and 2015. “Today, every step we take should be a step towards TB elimination, and the best way to start is to ensure that all TB patients in the community follow the DOTS programme suggested by the World Health Organization and take a complete six-month course of anti-TB drugs,” he said.

“The most cost-effective way of diagnosing TB is through the simple examination of a patient’s sputum for at least two days,” said Dr Kauser Jabeen, Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Microbiology, AKU. However many physicians in Pakistan resort to costly serological tests which are still of debatable value, she pointed out, besides highlighting the need for quality control in laboratories facilitating such tests in the country. Reaffirming Dr Jabeen’s stance, Dr Ali Zubairi, Associate Professor, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, AKU, highlighted that “TB cannot be diagnosed by chest X-rays alone and the results should be further verified by a sputum examination.”

Advising doctors on the treatment of TB, Dr Muhammad Irfan, Assistant Professor, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, AKU, highlighted the significance of doctor-patient communication at the start of the treatment. “While dealing with tuberculosis, it is vital to explain to the patient the nature of the disease, the duration of treatment and its possible side effects. For the patient, it is even more important to follow the doctor’s advice and not to change or stop taking their medication,” he pointed out. If people cannot do not take a complete course of drugs, the TB bacilli becomes resistant to them and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) can develop. MDR-TB takes longer to treat and can only be cured with second-line drugs, which are more expensive and have more side effects.

Taking the topic forward, Dr Nisar Ahmed Rao, Assistant Professor, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, highlighted that free treatment is available to all TB patients at any government-run TB clinic.

Doctors and nurses treating TB patients also need to take preventive measures. Dr Bushra Jamil, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, AKU discussed various preventive measures including face masks for both patients and for health care providers for at least two weeks from the start of treatment.

The programme concluded with a question and answer session.

Media contact:

Rida Turabi, Senior Media Executive, Department of Public Affairs, Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, Karachi, on +92 21 3486 2931 or rida.turabi@aku.edu