Wednesday, July 24, 2019 | ePaper

Take urgent steps to end TB

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BANGLADESH celebrated World TB Day yesterday when country has been bearing the brunt of an estimated 364,000 tuberculosis patients. Of them, about 33 per cent have remained undiagnosed with posing serious threat to public health. As per World Health Organisation, Bangladesh is among the world's 20 highest TB affected countries. TB usually affects lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body of human beings and other animals. What's most important that it is curable but fatal if not cured.
Physicians have warned that TB diagnosis should get more importance as untreated TB patients can transmit their deadly disease by sneezing and coughing. Against a huge number of tuberculosis patients, only 2,44,201 (67 per cent) have so far been identified, according to WHO's Global TB Report 2018.
It said 59,000 TB patients die in Bangladesh with a mortality rate of 36 per lakh. The WHO also stated that at least 1.6 per cent of the new TB patients become multi-drug resistant annually. The WHO estimated that at least 10 per cent of the TB patients in Bangladesh are children. But only 4.37 per cent of them are under the coverage of treatment.
This year the theme set by the WHO was: 'It's Time to End TB.' The government wants to ensure universal access to high quality care to its TB patients. But it would need more to achieve the goal. The Health Ministry provides free screening service and treatment to TB patients from the Upazila Level Hospitals to tertiary and specialised hospitals and at select NGO clinics. And it is also not adequate.
Though TB is a 'notifiable disease', many patients avoid informing the national programme out of ignorance. Surprisingly, doctors also don't inform the national programme often. Besides, modern labs for foolproof diagnosis are far from sufficient. Not only that, there are only 209 GeneXpert machines, a sophisticated tool to diagnose TB, in the country. Only nine multi-drug resistant TB centres are proving service to the patients, which is too inadequate against the necessity.
We must say, the government will pay special emphasis on increasing treatment facilities to root out TB from the country.

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