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27 May, 2017 12:14:53 PM

Dr. Ahsan Ali—a pioneer in TB treatment in Bangladesh

Saidur Rahman
Dr. Ahsan Ali—a pioneer in TB treatment in Bangladesh

The speakers at a discussion marking the publication ceremony of two books on Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases by eminent physician and former director of the National Institute of Diseases of Chest and Hospital (NIDCH) Dr. A.K. Md. Ahsan Ali said that the role of Dr. Ahsan Ali in eradicating TB in Bangladesh has not been evaluated in his own country although he has received some recognitions from abroad for his untiring research on the disease. They urged the government to honour Dr. Ali with the Ekushey Padak and Swadhinata Padak. The publication ceremony was held at Shawkat Osman Memorial Auditorium of the Central Public Library in Dhaka at 10.30 am on May 16.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and former Law Minister Advocate Abdul Matin Khasru MP attended the function as the chief guest while Chairman of Bangladesh Diabetic Association and eminent physician Professor Dr. A.K. Azad Khan was in the chair. Awami League Advisory Council Member Mozaffar Hossain Paltu, former minister and ambassador Habibullah Khan, former VC of Jahangirnagar University Professor Khandaker Mostahidur Rahman and former Secretary KM Farid Uddin were the special guests at the function. Among others, Magnum Opus proprietor Anwar Faridi, Dr. Maswood-ur-Rahman Prince, editor of the Stethoscope journal, and senior journalist Saidur Rahman spoke on the occasion. The function was conducted by noted recitation artist Camelia. A documentary film on the life of Dr. Ahsan Ali was shown on the occasion.          
“There is at least five TB patients in an assembly of 100 people. That is one in every 20 people is suffering from TB. TB is no respecter of persons. It may attack any person at any time irrespective of poor or rich, old or child, male or female, black or white”, Dr. A.K. Md. Ahsan Ali, one of the few renowned and pioneering TB and chest specialists of Bangladesh, said in his books. Dr. Ali made extensive studies, research and analysis on TB and chest diseases. He has also played his role in eradicating leprosy. His long professional experience added to the information of the books.  There was a time when the very name of TB would create panic among people and those suffering from this dreadful disease would be treated like pariahs in the society. A TB patient in a family was the cause of extreme concern for the entire family. People would avoid the proximity of such a patient. A person from rural area suffering from TB would be scared of undergoing x-ray. He or she would think that his or her days are numbered. The people have overcome those age-old superstition and ignorance. Nowadays a person does not feel uneasy to undergo a number of medical tests required for proper diagnosis of the disease. TB is no more a fatal disease. A person does not require rich foods, complete rest (except in some serious conditions), hospitalization or go to sanatorium by the sea shore or on the hill top for curing TB. Taking drugs continuously in right dose for a certain period of time as advised by the physician may cure the disease.
Dr. Ali’s highest achievement is integration of TB and leprosy with general health services and he is the pioneer of introduction of DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment Short-course) for treatment of TB and MDT for leprosy. The vertical and specialized urban-based TB & leprosy treatment centres were shifted in rural based Upazila Health Complexes to reach treatment facilities to the doorstep of the common people. Dr. Ali has been rendering treatment to TB patients for more than half a century with dedication. During the liberation war in 1971 Dr. Ali rendered medical care to many freedom fighters in his private chamber in Dhaka.
       Dr. Ahsan Ali was born on 1st May in 1937 at Rupasdi village in Bancharampur upazila under Brahmanbaria district. His father, the late Khan Shaheeb Tazammal Ali, was a widely respected person in the area. Dr. Ali passed Matriculation in 1952 from Rupasdi Brindabon High School with first division and I.Sc. from Dhaka College in 1954. He obtained MBBS from Dhaka Medical College in 1961 and joined government service in the same year. He had DTCD from UK in 1965 and higher training in general medicine in 1966. He completed special training on TB management in 1976 and higher training on TB in 1980 from Japan. He received FCCP Degree in 1984 and FWAIM Fellowship in 2002 from the USA. He achieved FRCP from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 2007 and Ph.D. in integrated medicine in 2010 from the USA.  
Dr Ali joined Dhaka Medical College as Associate Professor of TB and Chest Diseases in 1966 and worked there up to 1980. In 1980, he joined the National Institute of Diseases of Chest and Hospital (NIDCH) and served there up to 1991 and acted as Director of the Institute several times. In 1991 he joined as Director Mycobacterial Disease Control (MBDC)  and Project Director ‘Further Development of TB and Leprosy Control Services’ and served in that capacity till his retirement in 1998. He was the first Bangladeshi to be appointed as member of the governing body of SAARC TB Centre in Nepal and later became the Chairman of the Institute. For his service to humanity he received award from Biographical Institute of USA in 2001 & 2009 and also received Hypocrites Award from USA in 2010.  
In the prefaces of the books, Dr. Ali wrote that he was inspired to become a doctor by Shirish Chandra Das, the lone LMF doctor in his ancestral village, who saved many lives from cholera. During Ali’s early life cholera had broken out in epidemic form at Rupasdi and the surrounding villages.  The writer is an Assistant Editor
of The Independent
     A bachelor in personal life, Dr. Ali goes to his ancestral village Rupasdi once or twice in a month to render medical care to the villagers. He has founded a medical centre at his ancestral home.  Rupasdi, his birth place, has also changed a lot over the past few years. Improved communication, carpeted roads and electricity have changed the scenario of the village. Dr. Ali has done a good job by authoring the informative and valuable books. Readers, particularly students of medical science, will be greatly benefited from the books. He should also write a book (may be autobiography) narrating his childhood and  adolescent days at Rupasdi, his forefathers and relatives, his studies at home and abroad and his association with  celebrities.


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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