Taking the long way to get noticed

Tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment is free of charge in the public sector in Bangladesh. A large study showed that despite this, a large majority of identified TB patients did not use these services. Instead they “shopped around” between different types of informal health care providers. In our study, 30% of all TB patients had up to four rounds of informal health care visits before being identified by the National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP) and given the recommended treatment.

The services provided by the informal health sector were in general limited to providing non TB-related medication. Procedures for diagnosing tuberculosis (sputum examination or x-ray) were seldom done. Referral from the informal health sector to the NTP clinics when TB was suspected, was almost non-existent.

There is a great need for the NTP of Bangladesh to engage with the informal health sector in an attempt to identify TB-patients as early as possible and provide them with treatment. This not only benefits the patient, but also contributes to curbing further transmission of the disease.


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