Health Secretary participates in high level meeting on fight against TB at UN

ISLAMABAD: Secretary, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Iftikhar Ali Shallwani participated in the high level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis at the United Nations Headquarters.

In his remarks at the high level meeting on Saturday, Secretary Health expressed deep concern over the continued challenges being faced by the current health systems, despite numerous scientific advancements, says a press release received here on Saturday from New York.

He highlighted the devastating impact of COVID-19 pandemic on access to TB diagnosis and treatment and the burden of TB disease. He expressed the need for intensified efforts backed by increased funding to mitigate and reverse the negative impacts of the pandemic on TB.

The Secretary Health shared Pakistan progress in establishment of more TB diagnostic centres and also expansion of Lab network to diagnose TB cases especially MDR-TB.

He mentioned being one of the largest TB burden country Pakistan needs for certain innovative approaches through private sector and CSO involvement for TB response sustainability and affordability.

The Secretary Health emphasized that the need for action has become even more pressing in the context of ongoing conflicts, global energy crisis and associated impacts on food security, which are likely to further worsen some of the broader determinants of TB.

He highlighted that tuberculosis remains Pakistan's top cause of death from infectious diseases and that Pakistan has the fifth highest TB burden globally.

Iftikhar Ali Shallwani underscored Pakistan’s commitment to the objectives set forth in the 2018 Political Declaration on Tuberculosis by pointing out Pakistan’s achievements in the field of TB preventive, diagnostic, treatment and care services.

He expressed support for the goals and targets set out in the Political Declaration adopted in today’s meeting. He called upon the global community to expedite the development, widespread deployment, and accessible availability of an effective TB vaccine by the year 2025.

He also urged the member states to provide sustainable funding, quality and equitable access to latest preventive and treatment facilities, invest in TB research and innovation and develop safe, effective, and accessible vaccines, particularly for drug-resistant TB, with equitable distribution of vaccines.