Inadequate detection of tuberculosis (TB), particularly among poor people, is the major reason behind Bangladesh being enlisted as one of the 30 countries which are most vulnerable to the disease, health experts said yesterday.
TB can be cured completely through early detection. It is a highly contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria, which generally affects lungs. The disease's present curability is over 90 percent in Bangladesh, they said.
Therefore, the government should give more emphasis on TB detection and extend health services to poor and marginalised people, they added.
They made the remarks at a policy dialogue organised by National Tuberculosis Control Programme (NTP) of the health ministry, in association with USAID and its Challenge TB Bangladesh project, at a hotel in Dhaka.
Citing a recent report of World Health Organisation (WHO), Nazis Arefin, a medical officer of NTP, said at least 59,000 people in Bangladesh died of tuberculosis in 2017, making it one of the 30 highly vulnerable countries.
Identification of missing cases of tuberculosis, insufficient number of diagnoses, prevalence of the disease in urban areas and lack of human resources are the major challenges in controlling TB in the country, he said in a keynote presentation.
Hossain Zillur Rahman, a noted economist and former caretaker government advisor, said the detection rate of TB among the poor is alarmingly low. “They not only suffer, but also face economic burden. TB is both health and economic issue for us,” said Zillur, also convenor of Healthy Bangladesh platform.
Murad Hassan, state minister for health and family welfare; Earl R Miller, US ambassador to Bangladesh; Mustafa Jalal Mohiuddin, president of Bangladesh Medical Association and Edwin Salvador, WHO deputy representative also spoke at the programme among others.