The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is strengthening its ties with Bangladesh as part of its initiative to protect the global community from the urgent public health threats.
US CDC Director Dr Thomas Frieden
Director of the world’s leading public health institute Dr Thomas Frieden, who is now visiting Dhaka, said on Sunday that from this year they would work on two new initiatives – establishing ‘Global Disease Detection’ site, and making ‘disease detectives’ – based on 40 years of ‘very productive’ relations with Bangladesh.
“The relationship is getting even better,” the Director told journalists.
The US CDC designated Bangladesh as its eighth ‘Global Disease Detection’ site last year.
Dr Frieden said the disease detection site would help in protecting people within Bangladesh and also around the world from ‘threats to health whether infectious or non-infectious’.
He said a programme would start late this year to train people who will find out any disease outbreak and stop it.
“We’ve been working for it for the last several years,” he said, adding that the trained people would know ‘how to stop outbreaks and epidemics’ under the Field Epidemiology Training Programme (FETP).
Dr Frieden arrived in Dhaka on Saturday to discuss with health officials the US-Bangladesh cooperation on public health issues and strengthening the partnership.
He said their approach is to prevent problems. “We do it by finding out what the problem is, what causes it and by working to prevent it, stop it.”
“We emphasise cooperation in two ways that benefits everyone,” he said.
Explaining the ways of cooperation, he said, they worked on problems which were global in nature like pandemic influenza, and also on developing new knowledge.
The US CDC Director said a strong disease-monitoring system would help Bangladesh better understand ‘what is spreading, where it spreads and what the burden of the disease is’.
“At the same time, the world would be safer as any new strain emerging here will be known immediately and world can respond faster.”
He said they also cooperated on how to better prevent and control diseases. “There are many things like oral rehydration saline that saved millions of lives around the world, but we continue to have a lot of challenges.”
Dr Frieden said CDC worked on how to identify those challenges and the way-out.
He said both environment and vaccines were necessary for public health.
Handwashing was also very important like vaccination to reduce the risk of
diseases, he added.
A physician with training in internal medicine, infectious diseases, public health, and epidemiology, Dr Frieden is especially known for his expertise in tuberculosis control. He became CDC Director in June 2009.
He previously worked as the Commissioner of the New York City Health Department from 2002-2009. During his tenure, the number of smokers declined by 350,000, teen smoking decreased by half and New York City became the first place in the US to eliminate trans-fats from restaurants.
Replying to a question, he said tobacco control was very important from the public health point of view.
Citing global experiences, he said, raising tobacco taxes cut tobacco consumption, but increase revenue collection.