World TB Day: Strengthening Leadership for the Fight on TB

World TB Day: Strengthening Leadership for the Fight on TB

 {Photo Credit: Diana Tumuhairwe}Mary Nkiinzi, a TRACK TB Community Linkage Facilitator for the Komamboga Health Centre in Uganda, checks on Nakawesi Harriet and her family during a home visit while Harriet and her mother complete treatment for multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).Photo Credit: Diana Tumuhairwe

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.

Across our nearly two decades in the fight against TB, MSH has fostered and supported that kind of inspired and inspiring leadership. Working in countries from Afghanistan and Bangladesh to Ethiopia, Uganda, and Nigeria, we have partnered with governments, communities, and the private sector to build health systems that are fully prepared and equipped to successfully combat TB. We have strengthened the management and governance of health institutions and services, using MSH-developed tools such as the Leadership Development Program (LDP+) and the Management and Organizations Sustainability Tool for National TB Control Programs (MOST for TB). And we have created and deployed new technologies to enable more effective TB programs and better health outcomes, such as e-TB Manager to integrate health data and QuanTB to help ensure that medicines are there when and where they are needed.

For World TB Day, MSH’s TB projects are showcasing the TB leadership of our project partners:

Empowering Women Leaders

In Bangladesh, a roundtable discussion will highlight empowered women health leaders and activists who are standing at the forefront of the fight on TB through the Zero TB Cities Initiative, supported by USAID and the Challenge TB project.

Expanding Access to MDR-TB Treatment

In Ethiopia, World TB Day workshops, screenings, and panel discussions will focus on TB and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) awareness. MSH’s USAID-funded Help Ethiopia Address Low TB Performance (HEAL TB) project, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health and Regional Health Bureaus, recently inaugurated four new state-of-the-art treatment centers so that MDR-TB services are finally able to reach most of the Amhara and Oromia regions. 

Engaging Children in TB Awareness

In Afghanistan, the Challenge TB project is reaching out to children--the country’s future public health leaders--to raise awareness of signs and symptoms and encourage early detection. “World TB Day is a time to recognize achievements in TB prevention and control, and renew our commitment to ending this devastating disease in Afghanistan,” said MSH project director Mohammad Rashidi. The project has so far successfully implemented the Urban DOTS approach in six cities throughout the country, and a Community-Based DOTS approach in 15 provinces. Both of these innovative strategies help to ensure that patients comply with treatment by having health workers directly observe as they take their medicines.

Building TB Leadership and Technical Capacity

[Asther Zabibu, an MDR-TB survivor, sits outside the TB treatment centre at Mulago National Referral Hospital. She is one of the patients aided by TRACK TB to successfully complete their treatment. Zabibu now provides psycho-social support to other patients and counsels them on adherence.] {Photo Credit: Sarah Lagot}Asther Zabibu, an MDR-TB survivor, sits outside the TB treatment centre at Mulago National Referral Hospital. She is one of the patients aided by TRACK TB to successfully complete their treatment. Zabibu now provides psycho-social support to other patients and counsels them on adherence.Photo Credit: Sarah Lagot

In Uganda, MSH marked the end of the USAID-funded TRACK TB project at an event on March 22nd. This event showcased its success at enhancing leadership and the technical capacity of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Program (NTLP) for more effective TB control. The project met national targets for reducing the burden of TB, MDR-TB, and TB/HIV, and successfully implemented an effective Urban DOTS program in Kampala and a high-quality MDR-TB program.

For MSH and our partners, World TB Day is a time to recognize that leadership in the fight against TB exists and is needed at all levels of the health system. At the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB, which will take place during the UN General Assembly meeting this coming September, we will work with our partners to reinforce this critically important message by continuing and amplifying our call for leadership to finally end TB.

Watch the short film about Track TB’s work and achievements in Uganda

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