Pakistani health officials warn that TB spreading 29 percent faster in jails

Health officials in Lahore, Pakistan, recently said that tuberculosis is spreading up to 29 percent faster in jails because of overcrowding.

Punjab TB Control Program Director Dr. Drakashan Badar made the statement at an orientation session for journalists covering World TB Day, according to Tribune.com.pk.

Badar said that Pakistan's prisons are overcrowded and prisoners are living in such close proximity to one another that TB is spreading faster in prison than it would normally. The closer two people are, Badar said, the faster the disease travels between them.

"Health is a human right and those who are in jail do not forfeit this right. If inmates are not treated in jail for TB, they can put the general population at risk of the disease when they come out of jail," Badar said, Tribune.com.pk reports.

Under a Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course linkage program, more than 100,000 prisoners in Pakistani jails were recently screened for the illness.

Badar said that 300,000 people are believed to catch TB in Pakistan every year and that TB was a cause of poverty in Pakistan, because if the breadwinner of the family catches the illness, the rest of the family suffers.

"The World Health Organization has its own data compilation and they might put Pakistan in fifth position," Badar said, Tribune.com.pk reports, but she noted that her data indicated that Pakistan should be ranked sixth.