With the mission of preventing tuberculosis, a one-day advocacy and awareness seminar was organised by Mercy Corps with the title of ‘Advocacy and Awareness Seminar on TB Preventive Treatment (TPT)’ in collaboration with the Communicable Disease Control (CDC-Sindh), Bridge Consultants Foundation (BCF), and Greenstar Social Marketing (GSM).
As a part of the efforts to end TB in Pakistan, Mercy Corps and its partners are implementing a large-scale TB program across the country in 120 districts, with the support of The Global Fund and joining the National TB Control Program towards Ending TB by 2035. Mercy Corps interventions include engagement with the private sector health system, enhancing community awareness, and public outreach to remote areas in partnership with Provincial TB Programs, Health Departments, and implementing partners. Tuberculosis Preventive Treatment (TPT) is another initiative under this program by Mercy Corps to curb the spread of the TB disease.
The seminar began with a welcome address and opening remarks by Dr. Samreen Ashraf Qureshi, Deputy Directory CDC III – Sindh. She praised the efforts of Mercy Corps Pakistan and its partners in rolling out the TPT programme across the country. After the opening remarks, Dr. Adeel Tahir, Senior Program Manager, Mercy Corps, shed light on the background and objectives of the seminar.
Syed Saleem Hasan Kazmi, Senior Provincial Program Officer, CDC TB Sindh, gave a comprehensive briefing on the topic of ‘Burden of TB (Global Vs Pakistan), Programmatic Management of TPT’.
During the panel discussion, Dr. Sharaf Ali Shah, CEO of BCF, Dr Zulfiqar Dharejo, Deputy Director General, CDC Sindh, and Dr Shaheena Qayyum, Program Manager, BCF, emphasised the need for innovation to reduce the burden of TB in Pakistan and discussed the misconceptions around TPT and the standard practices around TPT regimen.
The seminar aimed to raise awareness about TPT, its outcomes, and its benefits and sensitise public health professionals, key stakeholders, decision-makers, and public and public sector officials actively engaged in the fight against TB.
TB has remained a major public health concern around the world. Globally, it is estimated that 1.6 million people lost their lives, and 10.6 million fell ill from TB in 2021. It is the second-leading infectious killer after COVID-19 and has been declared a national emergency in Pakistan since 2001. TB preventive treatment (TPT), a treatment offered to individuals who are considered to be at risk of developing the disease to reduce that risk, is one of the key interventions recommended by the WHO to achieve the End TB Strategy targets, as upheld by the UN High-Level Meeting on TB in September 2018.