Experts urge media to focus more on raising TB awareness

Experts at a meeting on Wednesday called on the media to play more effective role in raising awareness about tuberculosis.

The media’s role is vital in disseminating information on TB treatment management and related innovations, depicting the inconsistencies if they occur at any level of the disease management and suggesting improvements, the experts said at an orientation programme for journalists on the National Tuberculosis Control Programme.

The National TB Control Programme (NTP) under the Directorate General of Health, Bangladesh Health Reporters’ Forum (BHRF), and leading non-governmental organization BRAC arranged the event at the BRAC Centre in the capital, reports UNB.

TB-resAround 30 health reporters from different national media houses participated in the daylong programme, chaired by Dr Md Akramul Islam, associate director, BRAC Health, Nutrition and Population Programme.

As Bangladesh has fulfilled the MDG targets for tuberculosis control, the donors will provide US$11 million in next three years for further implementation of the NTP, the speakers mentioned.

“Despite our success in this regard, a particular challenge remains in treating the tuberculosis patients among the floating poor population living in the urban areas,” Dr Akramul Islam said.

TB patients living in city slums and in and around railway stations and bus terminals often leave the place without notice, making it difficult for healthcare providers to pursue with their treatment which is generally a six-month intensive course of medicines.

“As the national election nears, the media should highlight to the political parties the need of the poor TB patients to be brought under social safety net programmes,” Akramul added.

Detecting tuberculosis among small children remains another big challenge, said Mojibur Rahman, consultant, National TB Control Programme.

“Children under 10-12 years of age cannot give their cough for pathological test,” he mentioned in his keynote paper, adding that the alternative methods followed for diagnosis in such cases cannot adequately detect the germ.

Experts also mentioned that every year over three lakh people become infected with TB while currently more than six lakh patients are suffering from the disease. Over 65,000 die from the infection every year in Bangladesh.

Dr M Nuruzzaman Haque, deputy director and programme manager, National TB Control Programme, attended the programme as panel expert.

BHRF general secretary Badruddoza Shumon moderated the programme while its president Taufiq Maruf gave the vote of thanks.