Tackling multidrug-resistant TB in the Mekong Region
Patients with treatment-resistant tuberculosis (TB) are getting faster, and better, medical care under a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and launched by FHI 360 in three Asian countries with high levels of TB infection.
Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), a form of tuberculosis resistant to two or more of the primary TB drugs, is an issue of growing public health concern because treatment takes at least 20 months with medicines that are more costly, less effective and poorly tolerated by patients. Diagnosis alone often requires several months, during which time a patient may spread their infection to others. Under the Control and Prevention of Tuberculosis (CAP-TB) project, FHI 360 provided equipment and training in the use of a GeneXpert machine, a revolutionary method that reduces the diagnosis wait time from months to hours.
CAP-TB is USAID’s flagship MDR-TB project and an opportunity to have an impact in three countries: Burma (Myanmar), China and Thailand. The project is an especially important demonstration of the value of international partnership in Burma, where until recently most forms of U.S. government aid had been unavailable.
As the prime cooperating agency for CAP-TB, FHI 360 is partnering with The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, the World Health Organization, National Tuberculosis Programs (NTP) and local governmental and nongovernmental organizations to develop better methods to prevent and manage MDR-TB. Project activities focus on strengthening community-based education for TB prevention, early case detection, treatment initiation and adherence monitoring for successful outcomes. The project targets high-risk populations, including migrants who often live and work in conditions conducive to TB transmission and are often less able to access services.
In the first year of implementation, the CAP-TB project in Burma has conducted assessments in 11 Yangon townships and four Mandalay townships to gather baseline information and TB/MDR-TB data. TB field supervisors in Mandalay were also trained in infection control and developed a checklist to ensure TB infection control at the household level.
In China, 40 doctors have been trained in MDR-TB management, and 269 private health care providers were trained to refer patients with TB symptoms for testing. The Chinese government also announced 100,000 RMB (US$15,973) in funding to support the CAP-TB project.
In Thailand, laboratory specialists assessed laboratory practice standards at Rayong Hospital and launched a comprehensive service package covering the costs for patient transportation, laboratory fees and home improvements (such as proper ventilation) to promote infection control.
The CAP-TB project is funded by USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia (RDMA) from October 2011 through October 2016.