Comprehensive strategy needed to fight TBStaff Correspondent
Experts at a roundtable on Monday said that comprehensive and coordinated efforts by health, social, political, economic and media sectors were needed to fight tuberculosis.
They suggested that ‘directly observed treatment short-course’ programme should be strengthened to combat TB.
Physicians, rights activists, academics, journalists and government health
officials attended the roundtable on ‘Lung health and tuberculosis control: present situation and future direction’ jointly organised by National TB Control Programme, health ministry, New Age and BRAC at the BRAC centre.
Mojibur Rahman, programme consultant of the national TB control programme under the Directorate General of Health Services, said Bangladesh ranked sixth among 22 ‘high burden countries’ in the world in terms of prevalence of tuberculosis.
In his keynote paper, he said DOTS strategy was introduced under the NTP in 1993 to provide TB patients with free medicine and under the programme health workers visit the patients to administer medicine. There are 850 DOTS centre in the country, he added.
Former director of the National Institute of Diseases of the Chest and Hospital, Mostafizur Rahman, said a large number of sputum negative patients did not get medicines from the DOTS centres.
ICDDRB child health unit epidemiologist K Zaman said the DOTS facilities were mostly used by middle class people while poorer sections got little benefit.
Dhaka University history professor Mesbah Kamal called for combating disparity in the society to address the problems of diseases like TB.
Journalist and BRAC senior adviser (communications) Afsan Chowdhury called for a joint public-private initiative to fight against TB. He said there should be a communication guideline for the physicians who were providing health service to the TB patients.
Maasranga Television chief executive officer Fahim Munaim stressed the need for including the media in all programmes relating to anti-TB campaign.
ATN Bangla programme adviser Nawazish Ali Khan said a comprehensive and coordinated initiative was a must for controlling TB in Bangladesh.
Ashaque Husain, director MBDC and line director TB-leprosy of the National TB Control Programme said DOTS programme had now focused on every form of TB pointing out that a good number of sputum negative patients did not get medicine from DOTS centres. He said the upazila-level centres would have necessary equipment, medicines and manpower very soon for diagnosis of TB in children.
Dhaka Shishu Hospital professor Ruhul Amin said breastfeeding was an effective way to reduce chances of TB in children.
Chest and Heart Association president and former NIDCH director Mirza Md Harun said it would be difficult to achieve the Millennium Development Goal’s target to halve TB mortality and prevalence by 2015 if a comprehensive strategy was not adopted.
Zakir Hossain Sarker of NIDCH said that DOTS centres advised patients some unnecessary diagnosis and questioned how many of such centres were patient-friendly.
New Age editor Nurul Kabir while moderating the roundtable said health was a political issue. ‘In this era of corporate globalisation, political awareness is a major factor. If the society continues to be depoliticised and if we look at these issues as isolated ones, we would not be able to address any problem... we will fail to set priorities and there lies the point of coordination among health, education, media and other sectors.’
Nurul Kabir said in order to stop all kinds of anti-people policies and to expedite good works, ‘we need to build up a concerted resistance and for that joint initiatives of public health and media would be necessary.’
BRAC health programme director Kaosar Alam delivered the welcome speech at the programme.
According to the NTP website TB is a major public health problem in Bangladesh. Estimates suggest that daily approximately 875 new TB cases and 180 TB deaths occur in the country.
Unitrend Limited chairman Munir Ahmed Khan, chief brand officer of Go Brand Aftab Mahmud Khurshid, Golden Harvest Group director Nadia Samdani, Sanofi Aventis medical affairs manager Kumkum Parvin, Novertis portfolio manager Masudur Rahman, actress and Asiatic Marketing Limited executive director Sara Zaker, among others, were present at the programme.
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