Health Systems Strengthening Will Stop TB

Health Systems Strengthening Will Stop TB

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

An estimated two billion people worldwide are infected with mycobacterium tuberculosis, more commonly known as tuberculosis, or TB. Despite major successes reducing global TB prevalence and mortality rates, TB is the single greatest infectious disease killer globally, surpassing HIV & AIDS. In 2014, 1.5 million people died from TB, including about 400,000 who also had HIV.

TB is preventable, diagnosable, and curable. Management Sciences for Health (MSH) is working in 15 countries with international, national, and local partners to strengthen the capacity of health systems, national TB programs, and health managers to improve the lives of those affected by TB and prevent its spread. Our work addresses all elements of the health system: service delivery; leadership, management, and governance; medical products and technologies; health financing; health information; and human resources. We consistently apply evidence-informed knowledge and technical expertise to highly complex environments and in fragile states -- Afghanistan, South Sudan, Uganda, and others -- where TB services are most desperately needed -- and among the poorest and most vulnerable populations, especially women and children.

We are the leader in health systems strengthening, which has long been at the core of the MSH approach to the TB epidemic. MSH is committed to working with national and regional governments, local partners, and the private sector to build capacity and sustainability and to strengthen leadership and management for country-led, country-owned health systems. This ensures that the TB control strategies and standard operating procedures put in place are both effective and long lasting -- saving more lives and improving health.

The TB program at MSH focuses on specific high-impact strategies, such as tackling multidrug-resistant TB, TB and HIV co-infection, improving patient monitoring, and targeting key populations that are at high-risk for TB infection. The introduction and scale up of community mobilizers has proven essential, as has the implementation of DOTS. MSH has been a leader in applying the globally recognized DOTS strategy to improve TB case detection and encourage adherence to treatment in urban settings, where TB patients face unique challenges, such as in Kabul and Kampala. 

MSH continues to prioritize childhood TB. MSH efforts include using contact investigation in families and communities and the use of Isoniazid Preventative Therapy to diagnose, prevent and treat TB in children. We are also focusing on the integration of services, such as TB and reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) services and TB and diabetes services to increase TB screening, testing, and treatment.

Through USAID’s Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program, MSH improves pharmaceutical governance at both global and country levels; increases human capacity for TB pharmaceutical supply management and services; improves use of information for TB management decision making; and addresses both the quality and accessibility of services for TB diagnosis and treatment. By strengthening the building blocks of pharmaceutical systems to ensure that TB patients not only have uninterrupted access to the medicines they need, but also receive effective pharmaceutical services which allow for appropriate use, MSH through SIAPS contributes to goals for improving TB diagnosis and treatment, ending preventable maternal and child deaths, and raising an AIDS-free generation. 

As the global public health community gathers in South Africa for the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health to look beyond 2015 and share the latest in approaches to TB, MSH re-affirms our commitment to empower countries to build lasting, whole-health, people-centered systems that save lives by incorporating the latest evidence and best practices on TB care and control. Nearly 50 MSH staff are in Cape Town for the Lung Health conference, sharing results of our work through 4 workshops, 22 posters, 6 oral presentations, and 8 symposiums. Learn more about our events here, or stop by our booth () to say hello.