Tuberculosis (TB) kills more people each year than any other infectious disease. It severely strains health systems and local, regional, and national economies. And, like many health crises, the disease disproportionately affects vulnerable populations. Many families incur catastrophic costs, aggravating poverty in communities.
This World TB Day, we reflect on the progress we've made and the challenges we still face in the fight to end TB. The key moving forward is to work together to ensure we don't leave anyone behind.
MSH will host and support events in five countries this week to honor World TB Day.
Observed March 24, World TB Day raises awareness and mobilizes support for efforts around the world working to end tuberculosis (TB). The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated this year’s theme as “Unite to End TB: Leave No One Behind,” and many of the day’s activities will focus on addressing stigma, discrimination, and marginalization.
“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
Health workers throughout the developing world provide vital services and improve the lives of the people they serve, and yet they are often invisible. These men and women conduct community outreach, provide key prevention messages in the community, and deliver clinical care, treatment, and follow-up. In Uganda, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) TRACK TB project, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), supports 52 community linkage facilitators to help increase tuberculosis (TB) case detection and treatment success rates.
“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.
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.