Microscopes and Diagnostic Training Increase TB Case Detection in Ethiopian Region

 {Photo credit: Eskindir Degu/MSH}Endiros Tadiswal after completing two months of TB treatment.Photo credit: Eskindir Degu/MSH

When the community health worker knocked on his door, Endiros Tadiswal was relieved. The 19-year-old boy had been suffering from a terrible cough, chest pains, fever, and weight loss for nearly six months and had become too weak to attend school.

After examining him, the health worker referred Endiros to the Yekoso Health Center for tuberculosis (TB) testing. Unfortunately, when Endiros arrived at the health center, the staff explained that they did not have a microscope to examine patient samples for TB, and they referred Endiros to the closest diagnostic facility. Endiros was far too weak to walk the 15 km to the facility, so he returned home discouraged and afraid.

Soon after this, the PEPFAR-funded, USAID project, Help Ethiopia Address the Low TB Performance (HEAL TB), led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), began working in Endiros' community in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia. The project donated a microscope and diagnostic starter kits to the Yekoso Health Center and trained two laboratory technicians to use the microscope and conduct quality assurance exercises to ensure efficient and accurate TB diagnoses.

Endiros was among the first patients to be tested for TB at Yekoso Health Center and, as expected, his results came back positive. Trained by HEAL TB to conduct contact screening, the clinician asked Endiros to bring his friends and family members with TB symptoms to the facility for testing, too.

Within days, Endiros’ father, Ato, also tested positive for TB and the health center enrolled both of them in TB treatment.

[Ato Tadiswal Abebe after    completing three weeks of TB treatment.] {Photo credit: E. Degu/MSH}Ato Tadiswal Abebe after completing three weeks of TB treatment.Photo credit: E. Degu/MSH

Today, Endiros and his father are feeling stronger and have gained weight. Soon Endiros will be healthy enough to return to school.

“The relief we feel now surpasses the suffering we have been through. We are so happy and, at the same time, grateful to have TB diagnostic services at the nearest facility,” said Endiros.

In the eight months since HEAL TB’s training and microscope donation, Yekoso Health Center has diagnosed 10 people with TB. To further expand diagnostic capacity in the East Amhara sub-region, HEAL TB has distributed 25 microscopes and trained 242 laboratory technicians on microscopy skills and quality assurance monitoring. Together, the project-supported facilities in East Amhara have diagnosed 32 patients with TB and enrolled them in treatment.

Eskindir Degu is a HEAL TB laboratory officer.