The Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Pulmonary Tuberculosis Control in the Selected Upazila Health Complexes of Dhaka Division, Bangladesh

Trop Med Infect Dis. 2022 Nov 17;7(11):385. doi: 10.3390/tropicalmed7110385.


Despite the enormous disruption of tuberculosis (TB) services reported globally, Bangladesh's impact is not well documented. We aimed to assess the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the TB control program in Bangladesh from patients' and service providers' perspectives. We conducted a cross-sectional study from November-December 2021 at six conveniently selected Upazila Health Complexes (UHC) of the Dhaka division, Bangladesh. We conducted face-to-face interviews among 180 pulmonary TB service recipients and all TB service providers working in the selected UHC. We also reviewed TB registries from each UHC. All data were summarized using descriptive statistics tools. We found a 31% reduction in presumptive TB cases during 2021 compared to 2020. Other TB services, such as testing, were reduced by 16-36% during the same period. Service receivers reported a lack of transportation (95%), and a lack of adequate human resources (89%) as critical barriers to receiving and providing TB service, respectively. The findings of our study showed substantial interruption of TB service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening the recent progress and pushback from achieving the 2035 End TB targets. Early mitigation of TB service delivery through adopting remote follow-ups using digital health technology and integrating COVID-19 and TB screening is essential for the continuity of essential TB services and achieving global TB targets.

Keywords: Bangladesh; COVID-19; National Tuberculosis Control Program; Upazila Health Complexes; presumptive tuberculosis; tuberculosis service.

Grants and funding

This publication was produced with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the terms of USAID’s Alliance for Combating TB in Bangladesh activity cooperative agreement no. CA # 72038820CA00002. Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government or USAID. icddr,b is also grateful to the Government of Bangladesh, Canada, Sweden, and the UK for providing unrestricted/institutional support.