28 October - Dhaka, Bangladesh - The Bangladesh health ministry launched the Zero TB Cities Initiative in Dhaka on 28 October in the presence of the US ambassador and representatives from the Stop TB Partnership, Harvard Center for Global Health Delivery-Dubai, International Union Against TB and Lung Disease, and other partners.
The initiative, which is supported by the United States Agency for International Development and the Challenge TB project Bangladesh, is aligned with the Zero TB Initiative’s broader efforts to create "islands of elimination" by focusing on a comprehensive approach of fighting TB and engaging local governments.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Mohammed Nasim expressed his commitment to ending TB and signed a declaration with a call for action "uniting to make our cities TB free."
"We are committed," Nasim said. "At any cost, we’ll eliminate TB. We’ll do that."
US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat called the event an "important milestone," noting that Bangladesh has the seventh highest prevalence rate of TB globally and that Dhaka, as one of the world’s most densely populated cities of more than 18 million people, is particularly vulnerable.
"By bringing Dhaka into this initiative, we will be better able to prevent, identify and treat tuberculosis and help save lives," Bernicat said.
Speakers at the launch included Dr Sahu Suvanand, deputy executive director of Stop TB Partnership, Prof Salmaan Keshavjee, director of the Harvard Center for Global Health Delivery-Dubai and Chair of the Zero TB Steering Committee, Dr Jane Carter, board member of the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease, Director General for Health Services Prof Abul Kalam Azad and other Government of Bangladesh and Dhaka officials. Prof Salmaan Keshavjee explained the science behind the concept and approach of the Zero TB Initiative.
"We are excited to see Dhaka join the growing number of cities in the world who have taken a resolve to end TB by changing their TB responses to a scaled-up comprehensive approach of ‘search-treat-prevent.’ Only by such ambitious and unprecedented actions will we be able to end TB. We congratulate the Honourable Minister of Health for his leadership and thank USAID and all involved partners for their contribution," said Dr Sahu.