Tuberculosis, a highly infectious disease, remains a major public health threat in the country with 99,000 cases reported in the first six months of this year, data show while an estimated 247 cases per day remain undetected due to asymptomatic condition or lack of access to screening of the disease, icddr,b said.
The icddr,b has been implementing the USAID’s Alliance for Combating Tuberculosis in Bangladesh (ACTB) project in collaboration with the National TB Control Programme (NTP), Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) since March this year.
Recently, icddr,b joined hands with HEED Bangladesh, one of the largest local development partners, to ramp up the diagnosis and management of TB cases in tea garden areas of Sylhet Division.
The inauguration meeting was held on Tuesday at Moulvibazar's Kamalganj in presence of Professor Dr Md Shamiul Islam, Director of Mycobacterial Disease Control (MBDC) & Line Director TBL and ASP, NTP, DGHS and Derrick S Brown, Mission Director, USAID.
Under the ACTB project, community-based interventions among tea, rubber and Punji (ethnic village) communities will be carried out to identify active cases by engaging tea garden healthcare workers and local private practitioners.
The tea-garden healthcare workers will be trained on TB screening, diagnosis, and management. Different awareness programmes will be conducted through cultural events like POT song on TB.
The partnership will also carry out active case identification for early TB case detection, contact investigation and TB preventive therapy, among others.
Professor Islam thanked the USAID, icddr,b and HEED Bangladesh for expanding ACTB operations in the hard to reach areas.
He said, “Detection of tuberculosis becomes a challenge during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. I believe this partnership will not only raise awareness about the disease but also help detect more cases and reduce the burden among tea garden workers and in the local communities.”
Brown appreciated the project activities and reiterated USAID’s commitment to reduce the incidence of tuberculosis by 2022 through increasing case detection and treatment of all forms of TB.
He also appreciated NTP’s leadership in controlling tuberculosis in Bangladesh.
Among others, Xerses Sidhwa, PHNE Director, USAID; Dr Pushpita Samina, Clinical Services Lead, USAID; Dr Paul Daru, Chief of Party, ACTB, icddr,b and Dr Shahriar Ahmed, Project Coordinator, ACTB, icddr,b also spoke on the occasion.
The inaugural session included presentation from HEED Bangladesh, POT song on TB control, visits to project activities, meeting ethnic group leaders at Fuskuri Tea Estate and attending a tea garden health workers’ orientation programme at the Deanston Tea Estate.
Dr Towhid Ahmad, Civil Surgeon, Moulvibazar and representatives from NTP, USAID, icddr,b, HEED Bangladesh and local health officials were also present at the inauguration meeting.
Also read: Dr Tahmeed made icddr,b Executive Director