DHAKA, March 21, 2017 (BSS) - Multi Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) poses a major challenge to TB control in the country, a leading chest disease expert told BSS.
"Despite achieving a remarkable success in detection and treatment of TB, it is still a major public health problem in Bangladesh as nearly 5,000 patients are diagnosed with MDR-TB every year," said Dr Shamim Ahmed, an associate professor of Pulmonology Department, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
He, however, said that long-term treatment for about two years has been proved to be effective to cure an MDR-TB patient.
TB, he said, is caused by an infectious agent called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which generally responds well to anti-TB drugs.
A general TB patient gets cured completely if he or she takes drugs for six months regularly, he said, adding that if the patient does not take drugs regularly, or does not complete full course or if the drugs are of low quality, then TB germs become drug-resistant.
"This is called MDR-TB and it is not generally cured with existing drugs. The patients have to take new drugs for about 24 months," he added.
Shamim said general signs and symptoms of TB include fever, chills, night sweats, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fatigue.
He also said it may infect any part of the body, but most commonly occurs in the lungs (known as pulmonary tuberculosis).
In Bangladesh, Shamim said, the estimated incidence rate for all forms of Tuberculosis in 2015 was 225 per 100 000 population while MDR-TB was 6 per 100,000 population.
In the world, an estimated 4,80,000 people developed MDR-TB and at least 2,50,000 deaths were caused by the disease in 2015, he said, adding that Bangladesh is also a high MDR-TB burden country in the world.
Shamim, however, said the government, together with its many partners from the public and private sectors, is committed to further intensify the TB control activity in order to sustain the achieved success and to reach the TB control targets.
Community-based treatment programs such as DOTS-Plus, a MDR-TB-specialized treatment using the popular Directly Observed Therapy - Short Course (DOTS) initiative, have shown considerable success in the treatment of MDR-TB in some parts of the world, including Bangladesh, he added.
He said these programs are proven to be a good option for proper treatment of MDR-TB in the poor and in rural areas.
Bangladesh government has introduced DOTS in 1993 and the programme has achieved remarkable progress in TB control, the expert said.
He also informed that the program has successfully treated 94 percent of bacteriologically confirmed new pulmonary TB cases registered in 2014.
Dr Shamim said the government and BSMMU together have been working relentlessly to control the disease through awareness programmes for TB patients.
Like other countries, Bangladesh also observes the World TB Day on March 24 every year to keep people aware about TB as well as MDR-TB, he added.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)