Challenge TB: Our Impact

Unable to work, Rasel worried about how his family would survive while he went through treatment for drug-resistant TB.Photo credit: Challenge TB Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a global hotspot for TB, and the country’s government and its partners are hard at work to find and treat missing cases of TB and prevent the spread of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). The available treatment for MDR-TB is expensive, lengthy, and complex, and the disease is often considered a death sentence.

One of the first patients in Bangladesh to receive the shorter treatment regimen, Billal survived multi-drug resistant TB and returned to his life and his family.Photo credit: Challenge TB Bangladesh

Living with TB is very hard, and living with drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) is even worse. The drugs needed to treat DR-TB are not only toxic but also very expensive, and treatment can take as long as two years to complete. In April 2017, with the support of USAID’s Challenge TB (CTB) project, Bangladesh started its first patients on a shorter treatment regimen for DR-TB.

Left to right: Dr. Daniel Gemechu, Regional Director for CTB/Ethiopia , Dr. Ahmed Bedru, Country Director for CTB/Ethiopia , Mr. Taye Letta, National TB Program Manager, Dr. Liya Tadesse, State Minister of Health, Dr. Kitty van Weezenbeek, Executive Director of KNCV and Dr. Pedro Suarez, Senior Director, Infectious Disease Cluster at MSH.

At last week’s end of project ceremony, the USAID-funded Challenge TB project celebrated improvements in Ethiopia’s ability to save lives by detecting, diagnosing, and treating TB more effectively.Under this five-year program, USAID invested $42 million to improve the quality of TB care and prevention services, enabling patients to receive better access to treatment and medication to fight the disease. TB deaths have dropped significantly as treatment success rates rose above 90%, with 75% of those suffering from multidrug-resistant TB now able to beat the disease after comple

Tuberculosis remains the world’s leading infectious disease killer, claiming 4,500 lives each day. Every year, some 558,000 people will develop a form of TB that is resistant to rifampicin, the most effective first-line drug, making successful treatment of the disease even more difficult and costly. Ending the global epidemic requires a comprehensive approach, rapid innovation and proven interventions, bold leadership, and intensive community engagement.

 {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.

The Bangladesh Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the  Zero TB Cities Initiative in Dhaka on October 28, at an event attended by numerous local government and global healthcare leaders, including the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, Management Sciences for Health’s (MSH’s) CEO, Marian W. Wentworth, and representatives from the Stop TB Partnership, Harvard Center for Global Health Delivery-Dubai, the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease, and Interactive Research and Development.  

 {Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Ethiopia is making progress in tackling tuberculosis, the leading infectious disease killer along with HIV.Photo credit: Warren Zelman

This week, MSH is joining researchers, advocates, civil society, scientists, healthcare professionals, and students working on all aspects of lung health around the world in Guadalajara, Mexico for the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health, where tuberculosis is the key topic. Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, with over 95% of TB deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Although tremendous progress has been made in the ongoing fight against this disease, some key segments of the population continue to shoulder the burden of TB more acutely.

Sabir, who narrowly survived TB, visits the doctor with his family for a follow-up visit. Photo credit: Challenge TB Bangladesh

It is a common story in Bangladesh: Alarming symptoms, an initial misdiagnosis, inappropriate drugs, continuous pain and suffering…until, if he or she is lucky, the patient finally sees a specialist and is diagnosed and treated for TB. Unfortunately, this sequence of events is more common for children than adults. Because pediatric TB can mimic other diseases and patients can present without a cough, pediatric TB has developed a reputation of being rare and difficult to detect. However, global evidence suggests that about 10% of TB patients are under the age of 15.

 {Photo Credit: Males Emmanuel/MSH}Baby Mary after two successful weeks on anti-TB treatmentPhoto Credit: Males Emmanuel/MSH

At nine months old, Mary Yeno had lived with TB for nearly half of her short life before being accurately diagnosed and treated. Mary’s mother, Flora Faida, carried the baby to three different health facilities without success. “She was coughing and had difficulty breathing. She stopped breastfeeding,” Faida said.

 {Photo Credit: Landry Serges-Malaba/MSH}Alain Kelende, mason and former TB patientPhoto Credit: Landry Serges-Malaba/MSH

Alain Kelende had been a mason his whole life, but for the past two years, he was exhausted every day and could not stop coughing, making it difficult to work. Kelende, 42, lives with his wife and two children in a peri-urban community of Kinshasa. Like many in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), he resisted going to a clinic. Instead, he self-medicated for worms and, he said, “kept coughing and growing weaker.”

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