27 March, Islamabad, Pakistan - To commemorate the World TB Day 2018, the Pakistani Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination convened a high-level meeting on TB as part of the Health and Population Think Tank to provide input and advice to the National TB Program on strategic direction.
Participants also attended the roundtable meeting of the Think Tank on 27 March in Islamabad to discuss challenges posed to End TB in Pakistan and the ways to meet the End TB targets and those of the Global Plan to End TB.
The meeting was chaired by Minister of Health of Pakistan, Honourable Saira Afzal Tararand and with the participation of Minghui Ren, World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director-General HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases and Dr. Jacob Creswell, the team leader Innovation and Grants, Stop TB partnership. The meeting was organized with the support of USAID.
Participants of the Think Tank, a tool through which different disease areas in Pakistan bring local and international experts together to provide strategic guidance, stressed the need to increase domestic funding for TB, discussed how best to find the missing people with TB, including the engagement of the private sector and addressed partnering with civil society for community outreach. The session also emphasized the need for improved access to DST to improve the numbers of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB).
Pakistan is one of the 13 countries engulfed by the Stop TB Partnership and Global Fund Strategic Initiative to reach an additional 1.5 million people with TB by 2019 that are currently missed by health systems.
A follow-up meeting scheduled for the World Health Day on 7 April will be of utmost importance to push TB to the highest political levels.