The world will need to halve the deaths from tuberculosis and reduce newly infected patients by 80 per cent to meet Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. This will essentially need stepping up effort in both TB diagnosis and prevention. The implication of the disease is so broad and deep in the country's public health that political parties should bring it into their manifestoes for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
Speakers expressed these views today on Monday (10 December 2018) at a roundtable workshop organised at the BRAC Centre in the capital. National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Bangladesh Health Reporters Forum and BRAC jointly organised the event titled 'Ensuring TB diagnosis and prevention through proactive role'.
National TB Control Programme line director Professor Dr Md Shamiul lslam was present at the event as the chief guest. Advisor to NTP Bangladesh on Global Fund and MDR-TB Dr Md Abdul Hamid Salim presented the keynote paper, while BRAC associate director for communicable diseases programme Dr Mahfuza Rifat gave the welcome speech.
Moderated by Bangladesh Health Reporters Forum (BHRF) vice president Nurul Islam Hasib, the programme was also addressed, among others, by WHO Bangladesh medical officer for communicable diseases surveillance Dr Mya Sapal Ngon, BRAC director for communicable diseases and WASH programme Dr Md Akramul Islam, Damien Foundation country director Dr Aung Kya Jai Maug, and BHRF president Toufiq Maruf.
Professor Dr Md Shamiul lslam said, the main objective of the National TB Control Programme is to increase TB diagnosis, for which it is now focusing on applying different modern techniques.
He further observed that any decrease in donor assistance may negatively impact the country's fight against tuberculosis. But the government on its own is putting high emphasis on its control as Bangladesh is still one of the high-risk nations in TB. 'I hope that the Global Fund and other donors will continue their assistance,' he added.
Dr Md Akramul Islam, while saying the world will need to halve the deaths from TB by 2030 to meet the related SDG targets, viewed that the political parties should include this issue in their pledge for the national elections due end of this year.
He stressed strengthened work at the community level, including dissemination of TB prevention awareness messages, increase in salary and other facilities for healthcare professionals, deploying adequate number of skilled medical technicians, and ensuring treatment for all irrespective of financial condition.
Speakers mentioned that urban population in the country is in more risk of infecting TB than those living in the rural areas. In Bangladesh, number of TB patients, combining both old and new, in rural areas is 270 per 100 thousand, while it is 316 in the urban areas.
The discussants came up with several recommendations, which include putting more focus on prevention of tuberculosis and quality of drugs, stepping up effort to control urban TB, prioritising diagnosis of child TB, bringing new drugs in the market, and facilitating more in-depth reports in the mass media.