Case study: How “Uthan Boithaks” are influencing community people to combat against Kala-azar, Bangladesh

Monday, 18 June, 2018

“I left the private clinic without any hope to live. My family members were also losing hope and thinking that I am dying.”

When Mr. X first fell ill, he sought treatment at a local drug shop but failed to see any improvement. He then went to a private clinic for treatment and spent more than ten thousand taka (equivalent to around £90) but saw no results. He continued to seek treatment from private practitioners including trained doctors, spent more than three thousand taka on medical tests but he failed to get appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

“I am a poor famer and have spent all my savings on this. Now I am destitute.”

One day a trained Health Assistant (government frontline health worker) conducted an “Uthan Boithak” next to a primary school close to the patient’s home as part of GoB’s domiciliary health service plan in rural areas. Two children from Mr X's neighborhood attended that “Uthan Boithak” and came to know about Kala-azar. They correlated the similarity of Mr X's suffering and their new knowledge. Those two students talked with Hashim and insisted that he should go to the Upazila Health Complex (UHC) for Kala-azar diagnosis. In Nandail UHC he was diagnosed as a Kala-azar patient and referred to Surya Kanta Kala-azar Research Center (SKKRC) for treatment. He has completed his treatment is now back on his feet.

UK aid funded KalaCORE programme together with GoB has a comprehensive strategy for sensitizing the community and local health workers on Kala-azar across endemic regions in Bangladesh. Through the technical support of icddr,b the program is providing training of frontline health care workers on Kala-azar diagnosis and referral. According to the monthly plan frontline public health care providers are responsible for conducting “Uthan Baithak” (Community counselling sessions) in different places of the sub districts.

“Meeting (Uthan Boithak) has helped people to know the information about Kala-azar. If there was no meeting I might be died without any treatment.”