Bangladeshi housewives tackle TB
I recently came across an article in the International Herald Tribune describing how a grassroots effort that uses ordinary housewives as health workers has managed to dramatically increase TB detection rates. In Bangladesh, where private groups have stepped in to take charge of the country’s national tuberculosis treatment program to compensate for the government’s corrupt and inefficient governance, Bangladeshi housewives have become a crucial part of the country’s community-based treatment approach. Around 70,000 women have been deployed in their own communities to check up on TB patients, keeping track of patient records, delivering medicines and offering advice. In turn, these women have gained respect from their communities and now earn some extra income by selling basic medicines (to which they have access to at wholesale prices). While initially ridiculed by leaders in their community, the women have now gained economic and social empowerment while becoming catalysts in the country’s improved TB treatment program. Finally, this success story can only provide supporting evidence that community-based public health programs must be given much more attention to. How could this program be replicated elsewhere?