Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
Published: 2017-10-28 19:44:56 BdST
Health Minister Mohammed Nasim launched the ‘Zero TB Cities Initiative’ with the support of the US aid agency, USAID, and the Challenge TB, the most significant TB control project in the world.
US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat, Board Member of the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease Dr Jane Carter and Deputy Executive Director of Stop TB Partnership Dr Sahu Suvanand were present at the inaugural ceremony in Dhaka on Saturday.
Director of the Harvard Center for Global Health Delivery-Dubai and Chair of the Zero TB Steering Committee Prof Salmaan Keshavjee and Director General for Health Services Prof Abul Kalam Azad were also present, among others.
Every year, globally 10.4 million people become sick with TB. Of them, 40 percent do not even receive care – health systems miss them after failing to diagnose, treat or report.
In Bangladesh it is estimated that 150,000 TB cases remain missing every year.
The result is many will die or continue to be sick and transmit the disease or, if treated with improper drugs, contribute to the growing menace of drug resistance.
Under the ‘Zero TB Cities Initiative’ which will first begin from Dhaka and then will spread to other cities when those missing cases will be found out by special screening methods and treated.
An awareness campaign will also be carried out. There is no specific time frame for the programme.
He also signed a declaration with a call for action ‘uniting to make our cities TB free’.
The US Ambassador termed it as an “important milestone” in the collective efforts to end tuberculosis in Bangladesh.
“This is significant because Bangladesh has the seventh highest prevalence rate of TB in the world, and with more than 18 million people, Dhaka is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, making it especially vulnerable to an outbreak,” she said.
“By bringing Dhaka into this initiative, we will be better able to prevent, identify and treat tuberculosis and help save lives”.
Findings from the 2015-16 National TB Prevalence Survey shows that TB prevalence rates vary by location and demographic groups.
The survey showed very high rates in urban areas, and among men and the elderly. Based on this evidence, the 2018-2022 National Strategic Plan for TB calls for an approach that targets cities and the populations at risk.
Board Member of the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease Dr Carter said, “search, find and prevent will be the backbone strategies”.
“These have been the pillars for TB control for decades, but to date, there has been lacking the necessary political will to undertake all these efforts simultaneously,” she said.
“Today you are witnessing the call to action here in Dhaka – the necessary political commitment to pull this entire strategy together and commit to its implementation is on stage here today.”