Although Bangladesh has made significant progress in checking tuberculosis (TB) in recent years, a large number of the country’s people are still affected by the disease, in many cases because of smoking.
A recent non-government study has found that more than 3.5 lakh people of the country are affected by TB every year, and about 70,000 of them die of the contagious disease, caused by bacteria which usually affects lungs.
It also found that tobacco consumption contributes to some 20 percent of the death toll.
ARK Foundation, a non-government organisation working on public health, conducted the study on of 1,527 TB patients in four districts -- Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Narsingdi -- from 2017 to 2019.
The findings were unveiled at a seminar held at a city hotel yesterday.
Among the surveyed patients, the study found that about 23 percent are smokers, with the gender ratio heavily leaning towards men.
It said the risk of death becomes almost double for TB patients who are smokers.
Suggesting the government to motivate TB patients to quit smoking, the study observed that tobacco cessation can help reduce a large number of TB-related deaths annually.
It also said ARK Foundation applied the technique among surveyed patients and found significant improvement.
“Tobacco cessation is a very effective tool used around the world to check TB. We have found its proof through our study,” said Zunayed Al Azdi, one of the researchers.
Quitting tobacco will not just help cure TB, but also help the patients not be affected by other tobacco-related diseases like cancer and lung infections, said Zunayed.
In Bangladesh, TB patients only get treatment for the disease. If they are provided adequate counselling to stop tobacco usage, it will create a positive impact on TB control, he said, suggesting that the government train its healthcare providers -- particularly those involved with TB treatment -- so they can counsel to help patients avoid tobacco.