Public-Private Partnerships Tackling TB Epidemic

Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on March 23, 2015

Labels: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan , Infectious Disease

World TB Day 2015

As Project HOPE marks World TB Day 2015 and honors the theme, "Reach the 3 Million: Reach, Treat, Cure Everyone," a look back at our history in Central Asia and our long standing commitment to address the global TB epidemic shows tremendous progress has been made.  Much of HOPE’s success in combating TB over the last twenty years has resulted from our partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other partners. Although HOPE first began working on a small TB project in Kazakhstan as early as 1993, it was in 1997 when USAID provided crucial funding for us to continue and expand our TB work in Central Asia. It was the first time USAID provided funding for TB in Central Asia. The funding covered all countries in the region except Tajikistan. Subsequently, over the course of four successive grants from USAID, Project HOPE expanded its TB work and partnered with National TB Programs and other international partners such as CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) to introduce the WHO internationally recommended strategy, DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course), in all of the Central Asian Republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). Meanwhile, through these successive projects and with additional donor funding and partnerships, Project HOPE played an integral role in supporting national partners to train health care workers in all aspects of implementing the DOTS strategy, supporting the introduction of innovative approaches to TB control, and to adopt the DOTS strategy. 

World TB Day---DOTS Training Turkmenistan

After Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan adopted the DOTS in 1998 but it took more time for remaining countries to adopt the internationally accepted approach; Uzbekistan had fully rolled out the strategy by 2004 and Tajikistan and Turkmenistan completed the national roll-out of DOTS in 2007.

While economies recovered from the collapse of the Soviet Union, until DOTS was introduced TB incidence rates continued to rise in Central Asia. As the strategy was expanded across the region, the numbers of cases diagnosed, or notified, also began to rise, and the estimated percentage of new cases that were being detected by the National TB Programs increased as well, along with the cure rates. These improvements in identifying more TB cases and treating them began to contribute to an improving situation in the region. The expansion and strengthening of DOTS in the National TB control programs coincided with a leveling off the epidemic and then a slow reduction in the size of the epidemic in all of the countries of Central Asia.

Uzbekistan Tb Education

And most recently, HOPE launched a TB program in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, funded by a $24 million grant from USAID to ensure more effective and accessible TB diagnoses and treatment, especially for vulnerable populations. The grant will also help reduce the burdens of TB and multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in the region.  So, it’s with great pride on World TB Day 2015 that we celebrate the amazing success of HOPE’s efforts with USAID and other partners to improve the health of many in a region still grappling with TB.

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