Health and economic costs of tuberculosis (TB) are substantial. Bangladesh has the seventh highest burden of tuberculosis and the fourth highest number of people dying from TB in the world. The threat of TB is particularly high in cities like Dhaka, which is home to approximately 10 million people. Global studies suggest that that people suffering from TB are out of work for an average of three to four months, resulting in an average loss of 20 to 30 percent of annual household income. However, TB is preventable and treatable. The U.S. Government has a long history of support for public health in Bangladesh. USAID is helping children like Sabbir and their families to combat TB, and help prevent the spread of disease.
When Sabbir was young, he learned to ride a bike by balancing it against a wall in the winding alleyways where he lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
"Riding my bike allows me to roam freely, chat with friends, and spend my time well," he says. But, when he got sick he couldn't ride his bike anymore.
At first, he started getting fevers. He thought he had Typhoid but it didn’t get better even after he was given injections and medicine. Three months later he went back to the local clinic. That's when the doctor diagnosed him with TB and gave him a new set of medicine for another three months. But still, he didn't get better. The medicine caused side effects that affected his emotions and made it hard for him to concentrate in school.
Worldwide TB is a dangerous health hazard. TB is a bacterial disease that is passed from a sick person through coughing, sneezing or by air. In Bangladesh, about 50,000 people die from TB every year. With the proper treatment, TB can easily be cured.
But, there is another type of TB—Multi-Drug-Resistant TB or MDR-TB that is less known. This type of TB became resistant to medication after patients with TB didn't regularly or properly take their medication. That's why the TB medicine doesn't have the intended effect.
Eventually, Sabbir was referred to theNational Institute of Diseases of Chest and Hospital (NIDCH) in Dhaka where they discovered he had this rarer form of TB—MDR-TB.
"For MDR-TB patients like Sabbir, they remain extremely weak and can’t manage to go to the health center. So, we provide medical treatment to those people at their home," explains Rahman, a Directly Observed Treatment provider.
"When I met Sabbir for the first time, it seemed to me that he wouldn’t survive. I used to go to Sabbir’s residence on a daily basis and treat him with medicine and injection. Sabbir started to recover his health slowly – he gained weight, and started interacting, walking and gradually started playing."
Now, Sabbir is back up and riding his bike and making mischief with his friends.