Medical conference dedicated to Bangabandhu begins today

Nurul Islam Hasib

The association of liver specialists has dedicated their annual conference to ‘Bangabandhu’ in what is going to be the first-ever medical conference after the name of the founding father of Bangladesh.

Prof Mamun Al Mahtab Shwapnil, Secretary General of the Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Bangladesh (ASLDB), said they will take stock of the hepatology discipline’s progress in independent Bangladesh, and also remember the architect of the country ahead of the ‘Mujib Barsho’ from March 17, 2020 to March 17, 2021.

Styled ‘Bangabandhu LIVERCON 2020’, the two-day conference will be held at Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (BARD) in Kotbari, Cumilla on Friday and Saturday. More than 450 hepatologists, internists, surgeons and specialists of other disciplines of Bangladesh, India and Nepal will participate.

This will be the 16th annual meet of the association which is the umbrella organisation of the hepatologists of Bangladesh, a home to almost 30 million liver disease patients.

“The pattern of liver disease is also versatile in our country,” Prof Shwapnil told Bangladesh Post.

Estimated 5.4 percent people have hepatitis B while 0.8 percent carried hepatitis C which is one the key reasons of chronic liver disease in Bangladesh. New challenges appear with 6.86 percent people having fatty liver problems.

“Bangladesh is perhaps one of the most suitable countries for studying non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” Prof Shwapnil said. The liver discipline also expanded over the years after a humble beginning in the 1990s.

“We have come a long way. We now have separate departments in several public medical colleges, in addition to the one at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University,” Prof Shwapnil, who is also the chairman of Liver Department of Bangabandhu University, said. “This is more than any other country in the South Asian region. More (new departments) are in the pipeline”.

Bangladeshi hepatologists have pioneered in many fields such as introduction of innovative treatment options like autologus haemopoitic stem cell transplantation and plasma exchange for liver failure patients.

The most noteworthy achievement is the discovery and development of NASVAC, a new drug against hepatitis B.

Prof Shwapnil, and Dr. Sheikh Mohammad Fazle Akbar, an expatriate Bangladeshi hepatologist working as a Faculty at Proteo Science Center of Ehime University, Japan, made the ground-breaking success.

NASVAC is already registered in Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Belarus and Angola. The recipe of NASVAC has been approved by the Directorate General of Drug Administration of Bangladesh. NASVAC is also the ‘first novel molecule’ to be approved by the Bangladesh Drug Administration.

Based on the excellent results with NASVAC in treating hepatitis B infected patients in Bangladesh, further clinical trials of NASVAC are now ongoing in Japan in collaboration with Prof Shwapnil’s team.

“NASVAC has brought the pride to the nation,” Prof Shwapnil said.

With Dr Akbar, he has been awarded for the development of NASVAC by American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and Euroasian Gastroenterological Association (EGA).

“We have hepatologists who are not only the pioneers, but also leaders in the region in different fields. Bangladesh now takes pride in having the largest experience of autologus haemopoitic stem cell transplantation in the region,” Prof Shwapnil said.

“Besides advanced, high-tech treatment modality like transarterial-chemoembolisation for liver cancer patients has also been introduced and performed by our hepatologists successfully and regularly.”

“Our hepatologists are now publishing original papers and reviews in impact factor journals of repute like Lancet. We are the first to have a dedicated Hepatology Journal in the Indian sub-continent. This journal, ‘Bangladesh Journal of Hepatology’ is published regularly.  Besides multi-authored textbooks of Hepatology, edited by Bangladeshi Hepatologists, have been published by leading international medical publishing houses like Elsevier, Mcmillan and Jaypee,” he said.

“Keeping in mind that Bangabandhu’s birth centenary will be celebrated as ‘Mujib Borsho’ from 17 March, 2020, as a humble tribute to the greatest Bengali of all times Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, we have dedicated our 16th annual international scientific conference to Bangabandhu,” Prof Shwapnil said.

“The conference will provide an excellent platform for collaboration between local and regional specialists,” he said.