BKMEA TB Control Programme
In Bangladesh, TB is still a major public health problem. While TB is most likely to be spread between members of the same family, regular, close contact with colleagues at work also presents a high risk to the spread of TB.TB is a workplace issue because health is essential not only to the well-being of individuals but also the functioning of economies. The garment industry of Bangladesh provides employment to about 3 million workers of whom 90% are women. Factories range in size from hundreds to tens of thousands of workers.
BKMEA TB Control Program started its journey on 01 December 2013 with a plan to remove TB from the RMG sector of Narayanganj area. Its office is situated at BKMEA Healthcare Centre in BSCIC, Fatulla, Narayanganj Under the programme, we have planned to work initially in 200 knit factories in the adjacent area. So far, it has motivated 35000 employees on symptoms and treatment of TB and providing necessary cooperation to TB Control Team. It has already tested sputum of 362 probable TB cases, diagnosed and treated 32 TB patients. Its existing activities are:
- Orientation session on TB for the Knit workers
- Sensitization Meeting for the Knit Garments owners
- Staff Meeting with Local Government Health officials, BRAC and other likeminded Privet Organizations and NGO Partners.
- Networking and linkage among the stakeholders for the welfare of Knit workers.
- Observing World TB Day at National and local tire.
- Free Sputum collection and testing by qualified Lab Technician.
- Consultation facilities by registered Specialized Medical Officer with free of cost.
- Management of free anti-TB drugs with the help of Local Government Hospitals and BRAC.
An education programme for garment workers was also simultaneously rolled out. This training includes a general discussion of TB that is facilitated by the use of posters, leaflets and videos – so that workers become aware of the dangers of TB, and understand how to prevent it and treat it. Emphasis is placed on removing the stigma of TB and empowering garment workers to seek care.
TB control in Knitwear workplaces under BKMEA provides Strategies, protocols, guides and tools for the workers and stakeholders to be saved from being attacked by TB. We assess the impact of the project using quantitative and qualitative measures: changes in TB outcomes were calculated using standard indicators based on factory and factory records; changes in TB care-seeking behavior were assessed using qualitative in-depth interviews with factory managers and medical personnel, and focus group discussions with factory workers.
The project has brought positive changes in knowledge, attitudes and practices of managers, workers and health care providers on TB care and control. During 20013-2014, a total of 362 workers from a workforce of 250000 were referred for sputum microscopy and 32 were diagnosed with smear-positive TB. However, about 145 workers have received primary care at their workplace. The overall treatment success rate was 100%.
It is feasible to engage factories in TB control activities in Bangladesh, and thereby increase case notifications and improve treatment outcomes. BKMEA will continue engaging factory owners and workers into the programme and make the knitwear sector free of TB diseases.
So, BKMEA is rightfully committed to making the knitwear sector of Bangladesh a vibrant force of CSR programmes!