Global Fund and Stop TB Partnership seeks Sheikh Hasina’s leadership

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Sheikh Hasina, Global Fund and the Stop TB Partnership

In a significant step towards global health advocacy, the Global Fund and the Stop TB Partnership have sought the inclusion of Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in their prestigious coalition of world leaders. This coalition aims to champion the fight against TB, HIV, and malaria, and to enhance global health funding. The plea was made during a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence, Ganabhaban, on June 12, 2024, by Global Fund Executive Director Peter Sands and Stop TB Partnership Executive Director Dr. Lucica Ditiu.

The coalition already includes influential leaders such as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. By inviting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Global Fund and the Stop TB Partnership are recognizing her significant contributions and leadership in public health, particularly in controlling TB, HIV, and malaria in Bangladesh.

Nayeemul Islam Khan, the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, briefed reporters after the meeting. He highlighted the commitment of the Global Fund and the Stop TB Partnership to deepen their relationship with Bangladesh. Both organizations have been actively working in the country to combat TB, HIV, and malaria, providing essential funding and support. The invitation to Sheikh Hasina to join their coalition underscores their desire to leverage her influence and networks for greater global health impact.

During the meeting, Sands and Ditiu praised Sheikh Hasina’s extensive knowledge and proactive measures in addressing TB, HIV, and malaria. They expressed their admiration for the control Bangladesh has achieved over malaria, particularly in non-hilly areas, and the effective management of HIV within the country. The executive directors proposed that Sheikh Hasina attend an upcoming event to showcase Bangladesh’s success stories on the world stage, which would further bolster the country’s demands and reinforce its achievements in global health.

A critical point of discussion was the mortality rate due to TB in Bangladesh. Sands and Ditiu mentioned an annual death toll of approximately 40,000 people due to TB-related issues. However, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina contested this figure, prompting health ministry officials present at the meeting to provide data indicating that the number is closer to 26,000 to 27,000. To reconcile these discrepancies, Sheikh Hasina has called for a comprehensive survey to determine the accurate death toll from TB. The Global Fund has pledged its support for this initiative, emphasizing the importance of accurate data in guiding effective health interventions.

One of the notable commitments from the Global Fund is their assistance in developing mobile diagnostic units equipped with AI-integrated high-tech X-ray machines. These units aim to facilitate quicker and more accurate identification of TB cases, particularly in remote and underserved areas. This technological advancement is expected to significantly enhance TB detection and treatment, contributing to the overall health infrastructure in Bangladesh.

The conversation also highlighted the ongoing efforts to contain HIV in Bangladesh. While the country has made commendable progress in managing HIV, both the Prime Minister and the executive directors emphasized the need for continued vigilance. They agreed that complacency could lead to setbacks, underscoring the necessity for sustained awareness programs and robust health interventions to maintain and further the gains achieved.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasized the importance of integrating malnutrition and cleanliness programs into the broader health strategy. She noted that improving nutrition and hygiene standards can play a pivotal role in combating TB and other infectious diseases. By addressing these underlying factors, Bangladesh can strengthen its health outcomes and move closer to the goal of eradicating TB, HIV, and malaria.

The Prime Minister also briefed the executive directors on the activities of community clinics in Bangladesh, which are instrumental in providing essential health services to rural populations. These clinics serve as a vital link in the country’s health system, offering preventive care, diagnostics, and treatment services. The Global Fund and the Stop TB Partnership expressed keen interest in supporting and expanding these community-based health initiatives.

The Global Fund and the Stop TB Partnership have reiterated their commitment to building on Bangladesh’s health successes and securing additional funding to support these efforts. Their partnership with Bangladesh reflects a shared goal of creating a healthier, safer, and more equitable future. By aligning with global leaders like Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, they aim to galvanize international support and drive impactful health interventions across the hardest-hit countries.

The Global Fund, a worldwide partnership to defeat HIV, TB, and malaria, invests over $5 billion annually to combat these diseases and strengthen health systems. In 2022 alone, they disbursed a record $5.2 billion, supporting a broad spectrum of health initiatives, including the COVID-19 Response Mechanism (C19RM). Similarly, the Stop TB Partnership, a UN-hosted entity, aligns over 1,600 partner organizations to lead global advocacy and action against TB. Their collective efforts focus on innovative approaches, drug and diagnostic procurement, and empowering communities to take a central role in the TB response.

The inclusion of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the coalition of global health leaders by the Global Fund and the Stop TB Partnership is a testament to her effective leadership and Bangladesh’s progress in combating infectious diseases. This collaboration promises to amplify global health initiatives and drive substantial improvements in TB, HIV, and malaria control, both in Bangladesh and worldwide.

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