Although the government's overall success continues in tuberculosis treatment, control of multi-drug resistant TB or MDR TB remains a major challenge, mainly due to complications in diagnostic process. Still now, Estimated 80% of the patients with MDR TB infection cannot be diagnosed. Moreover, treatment cannot be reached to 33 per cent patients contracting any kind of TB. However, despite there are diagnostic problems, treatment success for pulmonary TB in the country is as high as 95 per cent.
Experts revealed the information at a press conference on Thursday (Mar 22) at the National Press Club. Health and family welfare ministry, National TB Control Programme (NTP) and BRAC organized the event on the occasion of World TB Day to be observed on Mar 24.
Dr Md Abul Khair Basher presented the keynote paper at the press event. NTP Medical Officer Dr Nazis Arefin Saki gave a presentation on the NTP management, while its Monitoring & Evaluation Expert Dr Ahmedul Hassan Khan gave the welcome speech. NTP line director Professor Dr Samiul Islam moderated the question and answer session with the press.
Among other guests present at the press conference were World Health Organisation Medical Officer Mya Sapol, National Anti-tuberculosis Association of Bangladesh (NATAB) president Mozaffar Hossain Paltu, USAID Senior Adviser for infectious diseases Dr Charles Lerman, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh scientist Dr Sayra Banu and BRAC Director Dr Md Akramul Islam.
Speakers mentioned shortage of GeneXpert machines used for MDR TB detection as a major hindrance in this regard. Lack of awareness and length of MDR TB treatment duration are also important factors for many not completing the full treatment course.
According to the NTP, 2 lakh 44 thousand and 201 patients were detected with TB and received treatment in 2017 through this government entity. Of them, 10 thousand and 189 are less than 15 years old. Further, 12 patients have been diagnosed as extensively drug resistant (XDR).
The keynote speech stressed that in Bangladesh 221 individual’s contract TB infection every year and 40 die of the infection (Global TB report 2017). The statistics itself highlights the urgency of deploying sufficient equipment as well as strengthening the mass awareness campaign in this regard.
Professor Dr Samiul Islam said the country's success in diagnosing and treating tuberculosis between 1993 and 2018 bears the evidence of the achievement of the National TB Control Programme. Under NTP, the rate of diagnosis is 77 per cent per one lakh population and that of recovery 95 per cent per one lakh. He further said that despite the success Bangladesh is still one of the 30 countries most vulnerable to this infection. He called for all to work unitedly to free the country from TB.
Mya Sapol stressed collaborative effort between the government and the non-governmental sector in controlling TB.
Dr Md Akramul Islam called on the mass media to play a stronger role in TB control campaign through dissemination of information about the efforts undertaken at both the government and the non-governmental level. He further said, prevalence of TB infection is high among urban and elderly population. Giving special emphasis on urban TB control he said, this initiative are under expansion in the slums among floating population, industrial areas, prisons and private sector.
The speakers also highlighted a number of challenges in controlling TB, which include constraints in diagnosing child TB, increase in urban TB prevalence among elderly and workplace people, shortage of GeneXpert machines and lack of human resources in diagnostic activities, lack of involvement of the private sector, and diagnosis yet to be made compulsory in the treatment regimen.
This year's slogan for World TB Day is “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-Free World. You can make history. End TB”