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Millwood, VA, March 24, 2013

On World TB Day, Project HOPE reaffirms its commitment to help achieve global targets to halve the prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) and deaths from TB worldwide by 2015.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that in 2011 there were 8.7 million new cases of TB, of which 13 percent are co-infected with HIV. Worldwide, TB claims the lives of 1.4 million people every year, especially in developing countries. Of these deaths, an estimated 430,000 are co-infected with HIV. Each year WHO estimates that among all cases notified, 310,000 persons will have - Multi Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB). Until recently TB in children (0-14 years of age) has been largely neglected. WHO estimates the burden of disease in children to be 500,000 new cases with 64,000 deaths annually. TB is a contagious airborne bacterial disease that continues to be a serious global public health threat. The rapid emergence of MDR-TB has heightened concerns in the international community on how to effectively address this threat - a major challenge to achieving the global target of a 50 percent reduction in mortality by 2015.

 “Mortality rates have declined by an impressive 40% since 1990, but the slow progress in identifying and providing adequate care in countries with a high burden of MDR-TB has the potential to reverse the gains made in global TB care and treatment to date,” said Christine Whalen, MD, FRCP(C), Project HOPE’s Senior Advisor on Infectious Diseases.

World TB Day ReviewingLab Results

Project HOPE is working on TB in two regions : Central Asian Republics and Southern Africa.All of these activities are designed in a way to help ensure Project HOPE, together with national and international partners, deliver quality comprehensive services for TB patients in each country.

Supported by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Project HOPE supports the national TB programs in the Central Asian Republics. Project HOPE conducts interventions in partnership with the ministries and with other organizations to improve quality and access to TB services in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and in Ukraine. The projects include training of health care professionals to enhance their technical, programmatic and diagnostic skills, improving laboratory services, drug management, infection control and supervisory skills, and strengthening community action for health across the continuum of care.

 “It is crucial that we increase awareness of the dual infection of TB and HIV and the importance for early diagnosis and treatment among at-risk individuals and communities including intravenous drug users, sex workers and people living with HIV/AIDS” said Dr. Whalen. “Raising public awareness that TB can be treated and in most cases cured and that HIV can be managed will help reduce the stigma associated with both diseases.”

World TB Day Looking at GeneXpert

In Malawi and Namibia where co-infection of TB/HIV are high, Project HOPE is supporting the national TB control programs through various approaches. In Southern Malawi, HOPE is strengthening TB control services and systems in several districts by improving laboratory services to increase case detection; by strengthening the capacity of health workers to improve case management including those co-infected with TB/HIV and improving the diagnosis and case management of those affected by MDR-TB.HOPE also supports communities to become more engaged in early recognition and referral of persons with signs and symptoms of TB. In several district hospitals, HOPE has installed the GeneXpert machines, a WHO-endorsed cartridge-based, automated, real-time molecular diagnostic test that can identify MTB and resistance to rifampicin(RIF) simultaneously in 100 minutes.This new diagnostic capability has resulted in a 10 percent increase in drug-sensitive TB cases in these districts. In Namibia, HOPE’s interventions complement the Ministry of Health’s efforts in community TB care through community health workers who support patients through their full course of treatment by Directly Observing Therapy (DOT). HOPE is also providing economic strengthening opportunities for TB patients and their treatment supporters. In both countries HOPE actively encourages TB suspects and patients to test for HIV and to ensure they have access treatment and care for HIV.

“In addition to supporting Ministries to strengthen health services and systems to improve and expand TB control efforts and engaging communities to support persons and families affected by TB, Project HOPE is actively exploring opportunities to build on the platform of HOPE’s well-established diabetes programs in China, India, Mexico and South Africa, to include TB detection in people with pre-diabetes and diabetes,” said Dr. Whalen. “We know that diabetes increases the risk of active TB about three-fold and diabetes increases the risk of adverse TB treatment outcomes, therefore early detection and treatment of TB and management of diabetes is crucial.”

World TB Day is an annual global event promoted by WHO on March 24 that aims to raise public awareness about tuberculosis and the efforts made to prevent and treat the disease. 2013 is the second year of a two-year campaign for World TB Day, with the slogan “Stop TB in My Lifetime.”

About Project HOPE

Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health problems, with the mission of helping people to help themselves.  Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now conducts land-based medical training and health education programs in more than 35 countries across five continents.

Media Contact

Geraldine Carroll Tel. 540.257.3746 gcarroll@projecthope.org

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