Experts have said that though Bangladesh boasts an exceptional success rate in the treatment of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB), at 77% compared to the world average of 54%, the infection still poses a significant threat to the country.
The information was revealed at a press conference jointly organized by the Health and Family Welfare ministry, National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) and Brac at the National Press Club on Thursday, ahead of World TB Day on Saturday.
According to the NTP, 244,201 patients with TB were identified and treated in Bangladesh in 2017, as opposed to 223,922 in 2016. Of the patients identified last year, 10,189 were under the age of 15. A further 12 patients were diagnosed with extensively drug resistant (XDR) variants of TB.
Experts said that an estimated 80% of MDR TB patients in Bangladesh remain undiagnosed.
They added that a shortage of GeneXpert machines, which are used to detect MDR TB, served as a major hindrance to preventing spread of the infection and a lack of awareness on the treatment duration among the public was also an issue.
Prof Md Shamiul Islam, director of the Mycobacterial Disease Control (MBDC) Directorate and line director of TBL and ASP, said undiagnosed patients were most likely to transmit the disease to others.
He added that Bangladesh was still among the 30 countries most vulnerable to TB, despite the county’s high success rate of treatment. The success rate for treatment of pulmonary TB in Bangladesh is as high as 95%.
Dr Md Abul Khair Basher presented the keynote paper at the press conference, while NTP Medical Officer Dr Nazis Arefin Saki gave a presentation on the management of the NTP and Professor Dr Samiul Islam moderated the question and answer session with the press.
NTP Monitoring and Evaluation Expert Dr Ahmedul Hassan Khan delivered the welcome speech.
According to data from the NTP, 221 people are infected with TB and 40 die from the infection annually in Bangladesh.
This year's slogan for World TB Day is "Wanted: Leaders for a TB-Free World. You can make history. End TB."
World Health Organisation Medical Officer Mya Sapol, National Anti-tuberculosis Association of Bangladesh (NATAB) president Mozaffar Hossain Paltu, USAID Senior Adviser for infectious diseases Dr Charles Lerman, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh scientist Dr Sayra Banu, and BRAC Director Dr Md Akramul Islam were present at the press conference, among others.