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Volunteers Shape Frontlines of TB Fight in Bangladesh

Tuberculosis -- a potentially fatal but treatable lung disease -- infects 300,000 people in Bangladesh every year. Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on a success story in the country's fight against TB, which relies on local women trained to spot and treat infected patients.

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    Finally tonight, a success story about fighting tuberculosis in Bangladesh. Our report is a co-production with National Public Radio. It comes from special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro.

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO, NewsHour Correspondent:

    Anima Tewari has a sixth-grade education, but this 50-year-old grandmother is on the front lines of a methodical surveillance program that's one of the world's most successful campaigns against tuberculosis in a country that's especially vulnerable to the disease.

    Bangladesh is densely populated, making it a perfect environment for tuberculosis, an airborne disease that's spread mainly by coughing and spitting.

    Each year, some 300,000 Bangladeshis develop the crippling lung disease, which also wreaks havoc in their families, says Fazle Hasan Abed.


    Tuberculosis tends to debilitate people in prime of life. In other words, we see more among adults than children. So, therefore, it has a great impact on family, in terms of losing a livelihood earner in the family.


    In 1972, Abed left his job as an oil company executive and started an organization to tackle poverty and illiteracy called the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee.

    Today, BRAC, as it's commonly known, is a quarter-billion-dollar nonprofit, running education, nutrition, small enterprise and loan programs, and most of the campaign to control T.B., a disease that can be controlled with antibiotics.


    The treatment still is quite good, in the sense that, you know, efficacious treatment is available and it can be treated and people can get well.