Tuberculosis remains the world’s leading infectious disease killer. Ending TB will require a comprehensive approach and targeted action, rapid innovation and proven interventions, bold leadership, and intensive community engagement.
On this World TB Day, the global health community is calling for “Leaders for a TB-Free World” to work together, make history, and end TB once and for all.
One Project in Ethiopia Shows Us That Investing in Health Systems Pays Dividends
Over the past five years, the Ethiopian government and MSH have been working shoulder to shoulder to improve and expand the country’s tuberculosis services with the goal of alleviating the burden of the disease.
If you wonder whether foreign assistance is money well spent, just look at the remarkable progress we’ve made in Ethiopia, where only a few years ago the stock out rate for TB drugs was as high as 20 percent. That number today is about two percent.
“When we started our project in 2011, there was no system in place to identify multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB),” explained Muluken Melese, project director for the Help Ethiopia Address the Low Tuberculosis Performance (HEAL TB) project. However, since then, the five-year USAID-funded project, implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), has expanded access to TB services to over half the population of Ethiopia and led a 15-fold increase in the number of MDR-TB patients on treatment.
This blog post is a web-formatted version of the Global Health Impact newsletter: Stronger Health Systems Stop TB and Save Lives (December 2015). (View or share the email version here.) We welcome your feedback and questions in the comments or email us. On social media, use hashtag #GlobalHealthImpact and tag @MSHHealthImpact. Subscribe
“I started feeling this coughing… so I went to the health center and got tested. It was positive for TB,” says Grace*, a young Ugandan woman. She started on medicines, but after two months, she stopped adhering to treatment.They told me to continue with the drugs for five more months, but I stopped.I thought I was ok.She started coughing again, went to the hospital, and was diagnosed with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). MDR-TB cannot be treated with two of the most powerful first-line treatment anti-TB drugs. Her treatment regimen?
Azmara Ashenafi, a 35-year-old woman from the Amhara region of Ethiopia, was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) and placed on treatment. She was fortunate. Many people with TB are missed by health systems altogether. But Azmara’a treatment wasn’t helping. Despite taking medicine for months, her symptoms persisted and became more severe.
In many places, her story would have a sad ending—TB is one of the top three leading causes of death for women 15 to 44 in low- and middle-income countries.
MSH staff are commemorating World TB Day through awareness-raising activities around the globe, including in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, and Nigeria. Here are photos (some from 2013) with activities this year.
Afghanistan - TB CARE I
This special January 2014 edition of the Global Health Impact Newsletter (subscribe) features 12 stories from 2013 highlighting how MSH is saving lives by strengthening health systems at all levels--from the household to the community to the health facility to national authorities. The stories were selected through an internal storytelling contest (available in print soon).
We are also pleased to share a post from President and CEO Jonathan D. Quick outlining our vision for 2014.
A Note from Dr. Jonathan D. Quick
Vision 2014: UHC and the Opportunity for a Healthy Life
November 14 is World Diabetes Day. This year’s theme, “Protect our future,” emphasizes the importance of engaging and inspiring local communities to promote awareness and education on the effects of diabetes and its preventable risk factors.
Silenat Yihune, a 40-year-old woman, mother, and housewife, lives in a remote region of Huletejuenesie District, Ethiopia, which is approximately 20 kilometers from the closest health facility. For nine months Silenat suffered from a cough, chest pain, fever, and weight loss, but was unable to receive treatment. As is common among Ethiopian families, Silenat was economically dependent upon her husband. He refused to pay for her travel to the distant health facility.