Tackling TB in Central Asia and Africa

Partnership Objectives

  1. To reduce the incidences of TB and TB/HIV co-infection.
  2. To provide high quality care and support to vulnerable people living with the disease.

The program offers motivation for sufferers to complete treatment. The program offers motivation for sufferers to complete treatment. Copyright Claudia Janke/British Red Cross

What are the health needs and challenges?

According to the Red Cross, tuberculosis (TB), a highly contagious disease, kills almost two million people each year. Patient failure to complete long and complex TB treatment creates resistance to future treatment programs, and co-existence of TB and HIV form a potentially lethal combination, each speeding the other’s progress.

TB is the leading cause of death among people who are HIV positive. For those affected by TB and HIV, stigma, poverty and poor access to services are added problems that challenge the successful completion of TB treatment.

A significant problem in the treatment of TB is not the availability of effective medicines, but the fact that treatment regimens are long and complicated. This means that many patients give up the treatment once the symptoms are no longer apparent, but before the infection is fully treated. This can lead to relapse which makes drug resistance more likely. Encouraging patients to finish their course of treatment is therefore critical.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

The British Red Cross Society and AstraZeneca work together to provide community based programs that promote TB and TB/HIV awareness and education, encouraging people to seek early diagnosis, improve patient compliance, provide care in the home and address the stigma associated with the diseases. Through these programs, Red Crescent nurses monitor TB patients’ living conditions and health status through home visits and undertake refresher training on Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) strategy, psycho-social support and first aid tools.

The program offers motivation for sufferers to complete treatment by distributing hygiene parcels, recruiting former TB patients as support group leaders, who also help reduce associated stigma and encourage early diagnosis and involving former beneficiaries of the program in self-support groups and psychosocial counseling.

TB awareness campaigns and educational activities are also distributed through newspaper articles, TV broadcasts, secondary school visits and student peer education sessions.

Lessons learned

  • Visits to patients’ homes help nurses assess living conditions and reasons that patients might default on treatment.
  • Individual counseling helps patients with problems arising both directly and indirectly from the disease.
  • Earlier diagnosis is enabled amongst immigrant and migrant populations byoffering free X-ray service and awareness raising activities.
  • The ability for sufferers to support themselves is enhanced by lawyers and social workers assisting with employment, identity cards, disability documentation and restoration of lost housing entitlement.

Summary of impact through December 2013 and forward looking information

In South Africa:

The South African Red Cross Society (SARCS) is helping to deliver improved care and support to people living with TB or TB/HIV in 10 areas. To date, some 2,500 people affected by TB or TB/HIV have successfully completed their treatment and over 6,000 suspected cases of TB identified and sent for screening. 160 Red Cross volunteers have been trained in TB management and prevention, including how to recognise TB symptoms.

In Central Asia:

Over 10,000 people living with TB or TB/HIV successfully completed their TB treatment and TB treatment completion rates reached 89% and 92% in Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan respectively. A significant increase in community awareness following media campaigns and health education sessions in schools and public places reached nearly 2 million people.

Partnership information

Company(ies) AstraZeneca

Partner(s) National TB Centre and TB Dispensarie, Kazakstan, Red Cross, Republican AIDS Centre, Kazakhstan

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Infectious Diseases

Disease(s) HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - Outreach & Medical Services, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) Children, Elderly, Health professionals, Marginalised / Indigenous People, Men, Mothers, Patients in needs of treatment, People with low income, Women, Youth

Region(s) Europe & Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 5

Country(ies) Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, South Africa, Turkmenistan

Start Date 2002

More information AstraZeneca Features

Completed date 2012