Challenge TB in Ethiopia shares expertise on World TB Day

 {Photo credit: Tsion Issayas/MSH}Dr. Degu (far right) answers questions raised from the audience in a lively discussion during his presentation at the 13th Annual TB Research Conference in Addis Ababa.Photo credit: Tsion Issayas/MSH

The 13th Annual TB Research Conference in Ethiopia took place from 21-24 March in Addis Ababa. Organized by the Ethiopian Public Health Institute in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, the TB Research Conference is a forum designed to promote discussion and share innovations toward strengthening national response to the spread of tuberculosis. The conference was also part of the World TB Day celebrations that took place nationwide.

Participants from federal and regional health bureaus, universities and other government and non-government stakeholders took part in the conference. TB experts from various sectors presented research abstracts, TB program implementation strategies and lessons learned. 

[Dr. Degu Jerene, Regional Director for Challenge TB in Ethiopia, presents during the 13th Annual TB Research Conference in Addis Ababa. Photo Credit: Tsion Issayas/MSH]Dr. Degu Jerene, Regional Director for Challenge TB in Ethiopia, presents during the 13th Annual TB Research Conference in Addis Ababa. Photo Credit: Tsion Issayas/MSHDr. Degu Jerene, Regional Director for Challenge TB in Ethiopia, shared MSH’s expertise in TB prevention and control focusing on innovative techniques and products Challenge TB is using in the fight against TB. His presentation entitled 'Psychological Care in TB and DR-TB Management’ highlighted how psychosocial support can help achieve improved treatment outcomes. He mentioned that in Ethiopia, patient counseling and education is not well organized in TB care adversely affecting the quality of care and desired treatment outcomes.

Adherence to treatment is one of the key factors toward getting favorable outcomes in MDR-TB treatment and psychological support is important in achieving this. Lack of proper counseling can result in loss to follow up of DR-TB patients. To mitigate this particular problem, Challenge TB introduced numerous interventions one of which is MDR-TB Clinic Days held at health facilities. On these days, MDR-TB patients receive adherence counseling; family or treatment supporter counseling; and psychiatric and nutritional/financial support, in addition to standard clinical procedures.

Dr. Degu also mentioned other innovative tools that are being developed as counseling and education tools. One such product is a video intended as an adherence counseling and education tool on MDR-TB for MDR-TB patients and their families. The video talks about how MDR-TB develops, its transmission methods and available treatment protocols. Patients that have successfully undergone treatment for MDR-TB give testimonies in the video proving adherence to treatment will result in total cure, thereby giving current patients hope and to persevere with treatment. When the video is finalized, it will be distributed to health facilities all over the country.

The 2017 Global TB Report of the World Health Organization lists Ethiopia as one of the 30 high-burden TB, TB/HIV, and multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) countries, with an estimated incidence of 182,000 in 2016. The rate of MDR-TB was estimated to be 2.7% of new TB cases and 14% of previously treated TB cases.

Challenge TB in Ethiopia works toward reducing TB incidence, prevalence, and mortality. The project, through MSH, works in four regions of Ethiopia and reaches more than 62 million people.