TANZANIA – The fight against tuberculosis (TB) has received fresh impetus following the rolling out of a latest digital technology.
The innovation which is part of Adherence Support Coalition to End TB (ASCENT) employs the use of Digital adherence tools (DAT) which enables the patient giving them more freedom to take the medication when and where it suits them best.
Such an innovation brings a more robust way to empower patients to take control of their treatment while simplifying the healthcare workers monitoring task in real-time
Speaking during the launch, ASCENT Project Manager, Baraka Onjare said the digital innovation helps patients to successfully complete their course of treatment through the use of data-driven support interventions.
“Such an innovation brings a more robust way to empower patients to take control of their treatment while simplifying the healthcare workers monitoring task in real-time,” explained Mr. Onjare during the launch of ASCENT project.
According to WHO, a total of 1.5 million people died from TB in 2020 (including 214 000 people with HIV). Worldwide, TB is the 13th leading cause of death and the second leading infectious killer after COVID-19 (above HIV/AIDS).
In 2020, the 30 high TB burden countries accounted for 86% of new TB cases. Eight countries account for two thirds of the total, with India leading the count, followed by China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and South Africa.
Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) remains a public health crisis and a health security threat. Only about one in three people with drug resistant TB accessed treatment in 2020.
According to Mr. Onjare, the project provides real-time information to a TB doctor or nurse, helping them to determine the most appropriate treatment approach for each individual patient.
“This makes it possible to provide better individualized care and focus efforts on those patients that need extra support,” he said. In his earlier address, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme (NTLP) Manager, Riziki Kisonga said the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation-funded project seeks to complement the government’s efforts in fighting the deadly disease.
“The challenge in addressing the effects of TB lies in the frequency of taking medication for the patients, we are however optimistic that the digital boxes will reduce the burden on the patients and the health system as a whole,” said Mr. Kisonga.
The project will implement in five different countries namely Tanzania, Ethiopia, the Philippines, South Africa and Ukraine.
Research on ASCENT is currently conducted in the regions of Arusha, Manyara, Geita and Mwanza. TB is caused by bacteria and it most often affects the lungs. It is spread through the air when people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit.