A new and comprehensive program, The Help Ethiopia Address the Low TB Performance Project, commonly known as HEAL-TB, has been launched by the US Government to assist Ethiopia in addressing the high TB burden, said the US Embassy.
The objective of the program, which is meant to benefit more than 25,000 Ethiopians, is to support Ethiopia with a comprehensive package of TB interventions to provide quality case detection, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as strengthen referral linkages between health facilities and communities in need.
HEAL-TB will expand, improve and sustain TB services in ten zones in the Amhara and Oromia regions. Expansion into additional zones will occur after two years of implementation.
The Program aims to increase the low TB case detection rate to reach the global target of 70 percent in the project areas, and increase the treatment success rate to 85 percent, thus saving the lives of thousands.
In addition, HEAL-TB will develop the capacity of health extension workers in nearly 3,500 health posts to identify possible TB cases and make referrals for diagnosis to health facilities, thus increasing the number of infected patients receiving quality case detection and treatment.
The Program will work with the Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute, EHNRI, and regional reference laboratories to implement a quality assurance system for health center and hospital laboratories.
The President’s Emergency Program for HIV/AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, provides partial financial support for the project, which is expected to benefit over 25 million Ethiopians.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, will devote 42 million US dollars in funding to the program over the next five years.
USAID partner, Management Sciences for Health, MSH, will implement HEAL-TB in cooperation with partners PATH, ALERT Ethiopia, and the Kenya Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, KAPTLD.
Ethiopia, which ranks seventh on WHO’s list of 22 high burden TB countries globally, is one of three countries in Africa with more than 5,000 estimated new MDR-TB infections annually. Of these, 1.6 percent of new cases and 11.8 percent of re-treatment cases are MDR-TB.