Bangladesh lung foundation is a forum for pulmonologists and allied specialties established in 2007. It is now treated as a credible “think tank” in the field of pulmonology (respiratory medicine) in Bangladesh. Over the last decade, the members of BLF has dedicated themselves to the promotion of lung health for the people of Bangladesh.
The priority areas of BLF are :
Airway Diseases- Asthma and COPD
Infectious Diseases- TB and other non-Tubercular chest infection
Immunological Diseases- Interstitial lung disease and others
Occupational Lung Disease
Paediatric Lung Disease-Cystic fibrosis, Bronchiolitis and others
In 2007, BLF has carried out a nationwide survey on COPD patients, internationally known as BOLD- BD Study (Burden of Obstructive Lung Diseases- Bangladesh). According to that study 6.5 million people in Bangladesh over 40 years suffer from COPD.
An Asthma Prevalence Survey was conducted in 2009 throughout the country.
Conferences on Lung Health
BLF has regularly organized International Conferences biannually, popularly known as PULMOCON in 2008, 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2017. The 4th International Conference on Lung Health- PULMOCON 2015 was held from November 17 – 20, 2015 in Dhaka. It was attended by about 1000 registered participants, including 50 foreign delegates. It has been acknowledged as a landmark scientific event related to pulmonary diseases in the country. Invited speakers from home and abroad made state of the art presentations on latest developments in our field. One of the most attractive features of the Congress is that outstanding young investigators received travel grants to APSR congresses.
We have established a strong collaboration with regional and international organizations like European Respiratory Society, American College of Chest Physicians, Asian Pacific Society of Respirology for scientific exchange, training and technology transfer.
Lung health awareness programs
BLF has organized a number of Free Lung Disease Clinics in some rural areas in Mymensingh and Rangpur districts.
BLF has already organized a number of GP meetings and workshops in Dhaka and Chittagong. Some 50 to 400 doctors took part in each program.
A primary care group based workshop was organized in Khulna as well as an outdoor patient camp and a doctors’ conference was included in the program. BLF is associated with IPCRG.
New lease of life for asthma patients
This was an advocacy campaign for promoting smooth transition to CFC-free inhalers, formally completed In light of the Montreal Protocol. Bangladesh was committed to the introduction of CFC-free inhalers within 2012. The BLF embarked on a well-planned advocacy campaign with the objective of creating awareness about CFC-free inhalers among the prescribers and users of inhalers on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Environment of the Bangladesh government. It was inaugurated by the Honorable President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in October 2009 and formally closed in March 2012 by the Minister of Health in the presence of the members of Medical and Technical Options Committee of the Montreal Protocol. The campaign has been endorsed as an ideal one by the United Nations Environment Programme. It consisted of a total of 21 meetings, each attended by an average of 200 doctors, held throughout the country. Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd, the leading manufacturer of CFC-free inhalers in the country, sponsored the campaign and achieved total CFC-free compliance status in March.
Tobacco control activities
BLF as a component society of the United Forum against Tobacco (UFAT) has actively participated in various programs organized by the UFAT. These include
National Conference on Tobacco Control in Dhaka in April 2012. It was well attended by eminent personalities from a wide range of professions. A panel discussion was held to formulate a plan of action for greater success in tobacco control. In the plan for action, the conference strongly proposed raising taxes on tobacco products to discourage smoking. Our efforts have borne fruit and we are happy to say that the Finance Minister has proposed increased taxes on tobacco products in the annual budget.
Voices of ‘tobacco victims’ BLF in collaboration with UFAT organized a meeting of tobacco victims dubbed as voices of ‘tobacco victims’ in observance of World No Tobacco Day at the Digonto Memorial Cancer Foundation.
Third National Conference of Tobacco Control on October 1, 2016. The daylong conference was attended by about 300 anti-tobacco activists from across the country. The Minister of Home Affairs was present as the Chief Guest and expressed his commitment to involve the law enforcing agencies more effectively in implementation of Tobacco control activities.
Health Development Surcharge (HDS) Management Policy 2017. We have contributed to the formulation of the policy which has finally been approved by the cabinet of ministers. This is definitely a milestone in the history of tobacco control of Bangladesh by generation of a mechanism of sustainable funding for Tobacco control.
World No Tobacco day is also observed regularly by organizing various activities including awareness meetings and rallies. In collaboration with the University authorities, we have successfully declared the University of Development Alternatives as a non-smoking organization.
Continuous Professional development
Workshops on Evidence Based Medicine: We have organized seven workshops in collaboration with the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons for medical professionals at all levels in different parts of the country.
International Workshop on Mechanical Ventilation and Bronchoscopy: This workshop was organized in collaboration with the Bangladesh Society of Critical Care Medicine and the Bangladesh Medical Association of North America in Dhaka. It was attended by critical care physicians and pulmonologists from all over the country. We intend to organize such workshops regularly in other cities of Bangladesh to promote quality care in critical care medicine and pulmonology.
Symposiums on Chest Imaging and Bronchoscopy have been regularly organized in collaboration with the pulmonary group of Bangladesh Medical Association of North America.
Other symposia and activities related to continuous professional development are being regularly organized to disseminate state of the art information in the field of respiratory medicine within the medical community. This includes one on ‘sleep disordered breathing’
Master class on Asthma & COPD
As part of its Continuing Professional Development (CPD) initiative, Bangladesh Lung Foundation (BLF) has launched “Master class on Asthma & COPD” in August, 2016 supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Beximco Pharmaceuticals. Mainly focusing on midlevel pulmonologists, family physicians and postgraduate trainees, we intend to cover about 2000 doctors from all across the country. The one day long workshop concentrates on various aspects of Asthma, ACO (Asthma COPD Overlap) & COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases) and importance of Spirometry in the management of multiple respiratory conditions. Expert speakers from BLF guide participants through the latest evidence based guidelines, help in solving challenging clinical problems and provide clinical tips useful for day to day practice. The ultimate objective is to improve physicians’ disease management skill for the beneﬁt of the patients with obstructive airway disease. At the end of the sessions, the participants have demonstrated conﬁdence in correctly screening, differentiating and managing Asthma, ACO & COPD.
Support to TB Control
Workshops for dissemination of International Standards of TB Care (ISTC)
With a financial grant from American Thoracic Society (ATS), BLF organized workshops at the leading medical colleges of the country in 2008-09 to create awareness among the faculty members regarding their responsibilities towards the TB control program when they treat TB patients.
Technical Collaboration on Social business model for Public Private Mix in TB control
This involves the three screening centers that started functioning within Dhaka city under TB Xpert project. TB symptomatics are gaining access to very sophisticated technology (digital chest X-ray and Xpert MTB/RIF) at a reasonable cost. In addition, sputum submission instructions through user friendly videos and electronic data notification is being used. Following positive appraisal by patients and medical practitioners, particularly leading pulmonologists and internists, the implementing organization i.e. ICDDR’B is committed to ensure sustainability of the centres under a Social business model with an objective of contributing to Public Private Mix (PPM) initiative for TB control. Early detection of MDR-TB is the most attractive component of the project. Already 60,000 TB symptomatics have been tested. About 12,000 TB patients have been diagnosed, including 507 with Rifampicin resistance. The cases have been notified to the National TB control programme.
Since this is an innovative undertaking strengthening PPM, BLF is providing technical collaboration for the enterprise, particularly in building networks and motivating medical practitioners to optimally utilize the services at the centers. We are thereby contributing to TB control in Bangladesh, a high burden TB country. Resource persons from BLF participate in the CME series conducted by ICDDR’B.
Participation in campaign to promote International Standards of TB Care (ISTC)
The National TB Control program has invited leading professional societies to participate in their campaign to promote the International Standards of TB Care (ISTC) among medical practitioners in Bangladesh. BLF is leading this campaign by organizing workshops.
Observance of days
World Spirometry Day: The BLF chalked out elaborate programmes for observing the World Spirometry Day on 27 June, 2012. A day-long “Hands-on Workshop on Spirometry” for doctors and on 26 June, 2012 to popularize spirometry , mass spirometry camps was organized at various venues.
Observance of World COPD day
BLF supported the leading newspaper of the country- “Prothom Alo” in organizing a round table discussion on pulmonary diseases. Mayor of Dhaka North city Corporation, policy makers, health managers, academics, pulmonologists, journalists, environmental and anti-tobacco activists participated in the vibrant discussion and called for creating greater awareness regarding respiratory problems particularly COPD and lower respiratory infections which have been identified as the second and fifth leading cause of death in the country.
Observance of World Lung day
In response to the APSR President’s call for observing “World Lung Day” in a befitting manner, BLF supported the leading English newspaper of the country- “The Daily Star” in organizing a round table discussion. The theme of the round table discussion was “Working together for better lung health”. Policy makers, sports and entertainment celebrities, health managers, academics, pulmonologists, journalists, environmental and anti-tobacco activists participated in the vibrant discussion and called for creating greater awareness regarding respiratory problems particularly COPD and lower respiratory infections which have been identified as the second and fifth leading cause of death in the country. Discussion was led by Mashrafe bin Murtaza, the charismatic captain of the national cricket team who himself has respiratory problems. We intend to launch an awareness campaign for promotion of lung health with the captain at the forefront.
Patient support group
BLF supports a patient advocacy and support group known as Club Excel. It has designated National cricket star Nasir Hossain and former cricketer Javed Omar Belim as Ambassadors for raising awareness about asthma.
Mission & Vision: Bangladesh Lung Foundation
In Bangladesh, the field of respiratory medicine has bloomed over the years into a distinct entity and a thriving sector, leading to the advent of many pulmonologists. These pulmonologists are working relentlessly for the amelioration of sufferings of patients with respiratory diseases in Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, we have to operate with resource limited settings, in a developing country. Nevertheless we have the knowledge and skills to ensure satisfactory care for the millions. It shall endeavor to harness our limited resources to optimize quality of care.
In this context, we have formed “Bangladesh Lung Foundation” as an umbrella organization to promote lung health in Bangladesh and the neighboring regions. It was formally launched on February 15, 2007 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bangladesh Lung Foundation is a company limited by guarantee and not having share capital registered under section 29 of the companies act, 1994
The Objectives of the Bangladesh Lung Foundation are as follows:
a) To encourage and coordinate communication, collaboration and cooperation between the health professions, community organizations, people living with lung disease and the business community on issues relating to lung disease in order to benefit and assist people with lung disease and their care-givers.
b) To formulate and implement campaigns to promote public awareness of lung disease.
c) To encourage health professionals to use recognized and accepted methods of diagnosis, treatment, management and care of people with lung disease.
d) To provide a forum for discussion and communication on lung disease for stakeholders.
e) To encourage the development of policies on lung disease in conjunction with other interested bodies & individuals.
f) To make representations to and consult with any government, non- government bodies or other authorities regarding lung disease.
g) To communicate and implement policies or evidence-based and consensus statements on issues related to lung disease developed or adopted by Bangladesh Lung Foundation in relation to the diagnosis, treatment, management and care of people with lung disease.
h) To establish the Bangladesh Lung Foundation as the national coordinating body for lung disease issues across all stakeholders at national, international and regional levels.
i ) To undertake, and to develop and promote priorities for research into lung disease, including etiological, clinical, educational and epidemiological research, in order to assist in the development of an integrated framework for lung disease research leading to improvement in health, social and economic outcomes.