Bangladesh has made significant progress in tuberculosis (TB) control over the last few decades, but still a large number of TB patients remain undiagnosed due to lack of awareness, doctors and health experts said yesterday.
They suggested that people undergo diagnosis immediately when they find the symptoms of TB, like long-term cough, chest pain and fever. Otherwise, they will not only intensify their sickness but also spread the deadly disease among those nearby.
The experts made the remarks at a roundtable on the challenges of TB control, jointly organised by National Tuberculosis Control Program (NTP), Brac and The Daily Star at the newspaper’s office in the capital.
Speaking at the event, Asif Mujtaba Mahmud, secretary general of Bangladesh Lung Foundation, said, “Prevention is a major part of TB control. To do so, we need to diagnose patients properly. Otherwise, the transmission chain cannot be broken,” he said.
He also urged people to give up the habit of spitting here and there, as it is the easiest way to transmit the disease.
Prof Shahedur Rahman Khan, director of National Institute of Diseases of the Chest and Hospital, said most of the TB patients in the country come to the doctors when their sickness is intensified, and already spreading.
“This practice should change and early diagnosis has to be ensured,” he said, suggesting the authorities concerned to bring the people nearby the patient under screening as well.
Speaking as chief guest, Prof Shamiul Islam, director of NTP, said people have to change their mindset over tuberculosis and forget the common belief that TB is only a respiratory disease which affects poor people.
“Except for hair, nail and tooth, TB can infect any part of our body, regardless of being rich or poor. Sick and malnourished people are comparatively more vulnerable to TB infection,” he said.
Sharing recent data of TB situation in Bangladesh, Nazis Arefin, a medical officer of NTP, said about 90,000 TB patients remained out of diagnosis in 2018, but it reduced to 64,000 last year.
Noted writer and columnist Syed Abul Maksud; Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad President Iqbal Arslan; Ekushey Television Editor-in-Chief Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul; Gazi TV Editor-in-Chief Syed Ishtiaque Reza; noted physician and actor Ejajul Islam; Unicef’s Chief of Health Section, Maya Vandenent; USAID Director of Health, Xerses Sidhwa; Director of Communicable Diseases section at Brac, Akramul Islam; prominent magician Jewel Aich; dance artist Munmun Ahmed; director Chayanika Chowdhury; theatre personality Tropa Majumdar, and actor Sumaiya Shimu also spoke at the programme.