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.
VIDEO: Working to End TB in Uganda
“We have the medicines that actually cure tuberculosis,” said Raymond Byaruhanga, project director for the USAID-funded, MSH-led TRACK TB project in Uganda. “So the question is why? Why [do we still see] TB today, and why isn’t it being treated?”
In 2015, TB caused 1.8 million deaths around the world, and another 10 million people fell ill from the disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Women and children are particularly vulnerable. TB causes between 6 and 15 percent of all maternal deaths, and childhood TB is too often not detected, diagnosed, or treated.
Participants of the 10th National TB Programme Managers Meeting in the Western Pacific Region in Manila, Philippines.Photo credit: WHO, Western Pacific Regional Office
Tuberculosis (TB) has surpassed HIV and AIDS as the number one infectious killer worldwide, and in many countries, TB remains a major cause of death, sickness, and poverty. Major challenges to TB care and control include increases in drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) and reductions in donor funding.
It is crucial, therefore, that governments develop sustainable TB care and control delivery and financing mechanisms in the context of universal health coverage (UHC) programs.
Earlier this month I presented on this topic and MSH’s experience supporting TB program costing, economic analysis, and financing in Indonesia, at the 10th National TB Programme Managers Meeting in the Western Pacific Region in Manila, Philippines. With assistance from MSH under the US Agency for International Development (USAID) TB CARE I project, the Indonesian government has been a leader in South East Asia in terms of projecting financing needs, looking at cost-effective interventions, and working with the private health sector and national insurance scheme to expand coverage and ensure quality of care.
While the transition to digital case management might seem to be simple, health workers in low- and middle-income countries, like Ukraine, are challenged by a lack of basic technologies.Photo credit: Niranjan Konduri/MSH
Niranjan KonduriMotivated frontline health workers play a key role achieving global strategies to fight tuberculosis (TB), writes MSH Principal Technical Advisor Niranjan Konduri, of USAID's Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program, for The Lancet Global Health Blog. Using the story of Irina Chaban, a Ukrainian TB doctor, as an example, Konduri highlights the challenges health workers in low- and middle-income countries must overcome while working to eradicate TB.
"While the transition to digital case management might seem to be a simple solution, [health workers like Chaban] are challenged by a lack of basic technologies that are taken for granted in higher-income countries," Konduri says.
USAID's ASH Project, led by MSH, brings together global and African regional partners for a new video on addressing childhood TB.
Tuberculosis (TB) is now the leading infectious cause of death worldwide -- ahead of HIV. While major advances in the diagnosis and treatment of TB have been made since 1990, children suffering from this disease have remained neglected and vulnerable. An estimated 1 million children become ill with TB each year, and at least 200 children die each day from TB around the world.
TB is curable and preventable, but we must recognize and treat it with the least possible delay. For children experiencing TB symptoms, the primary point of health care, often community-level facilities, is an important opportunity to identify and begin treatment. Symptoms such as a persistent cough, loss of appetite and high fevers must be recognized as possible signs of TB (not just of pneumonia, malaria, malnutrition, and other common illnesses among children), and health workers must be empowered to recognize and take appropriate action. Ensuring that children can access treatment close to home is a critical step towards eliminating preventable deaths from TB.
My name is Tiglu. I was born and raised in Bahir Dar. When I first learned that I am living with the [HIV] virus, my mind went blank. I was depressed. After that, I started taking antiretroviral treatment. Then they found TB in me...
Meet Tiglu, a living example of how partnering for stronger health systems saves lives. In Ethiopia, about 790,000 people are living with HIV. Tiglu, a patient at the Bahir Dar Health Center in the Amhara Region of north-western Ethiopia, discovered he is HIV positive three years ago, and started on antiretroviral treatment (ART). He learned later he also has tuberculosis (TB).
“If it wasn't for the trainings given by MSH, patients like Tiglu wouldn't have received proper TB treatment,” said Sister Tiringo Zeleke, a nurse at Bahir Dar Health Center.
It all began in November 2001 for Mildred Fernando when she was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB), a preventable and curable disease which caused the death of 1.4 million people in 2011. She was only 19 years old, working on completing her last semester in college when she contracted TB from her father who sadly succumbed to it two years later.