New Initiative Calls for TB Free Cities in Bangladesh
The Bangladesh Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the Zero TB Cities Initiative in Dhaka on October 28, at an event attended by numerous local government and global healthcare leaders, including the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, Management Sciences for Health’s (MSH’s) CEO, Marian W. Wentworth, and representatives from the Stop TB Partnership, Harvard Center for Global Health Delivery-Dubai, the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease, and Interactive Research and Development.
U.S. Ambassador Bernicat called the event an "important milestone” and said "By bringing Dhaka into this initiative, we will be better able to prevent, identify and treat tuberculosis and help save lives."
Supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Challenge TB (CTB) project in Bangladesh, the goal of the Zero TB Cities Initiative is to reduce morbidity, mortality, and transmission of TB in Bangladesh by focusing on a comprehensive approach of fighting the disease through engaging local governments, civil society, the private sector and community leaders. The initiative has already begun in a number of cities including Chennai, India; Durban, South Africa; Kisumu, Kenya; Lima, Peru; and Odessa, Ukraine.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Mohammed Nasim expressed his commitment to ending TB and signing a declaration with a call for action “uniting to make our cities TB free.” “At any cost, we’ll eliminate TB. We’ll do that," Nasim said.
In her remarks, Wentworth spoke about the global devastation of tuberculosis as a top ten killer worldwide and the disproportionate effect of tuberculosis on the most impoverished countries around the globe. The reemergence of tuberculosis in new and resistant forms also means that the risks to human life spread far beyond the most immediately impacted populations. The time to act is now, she remarked.
“MSH is proud to be a part of this important initiative aimed at eliminating TB by pivoting our approach while using a proven and comprehensive community-based care platform called Search-Treat-Prevent. What’s most exciting is that the Zero TB Cities event is bringing together local government, businesses and citizens to redouble our efforts against this devastating and resilient disease,” said Wentworth.
Challenge TB is the primary mechanism for implementing USAID's vision of a world free of TB and its global End TB Strategy, which includes a decline in TB mortality by 35 percent and a 20 percent reduction in incidence compared to 2015 levels, and no more affected families facing catastrophic costs due to TB by 2019. MSH’s implementation follows the project’s four principles: to have a patient-centered focus, to support locally owned and generated ideas, to be innovation driven, and to deliver quality-focused technical assistance.