Pilot program for TB detection holds promise, but challenges remain

There’s a promising pilot project to detect tuberculosis in northern Tanzania that can be scaled nationwide — but a number of challenges need to be addressed.

The pilot program, which ran April to September last year, helped improve TB detection among children and women in two districts in northern Tanzania, according to Zahra Mkome of nongovernmental organization PATH. The project was led by Management Sciences for Health in partnership with PATH and the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Program. It was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

PlusNews said evaluation of the program showed a 54 percent increase in TB detection in the Meru district and a 117 percent increase in Arusha since the initiative started.

But it was not all good news: The program also highlighted existing weaknesses of the local health systems as well as potential challenges that need to be addressed before the initiative can be replicated. For one, health care workers themselves noted the need for better laboratory systems and more equipment in one participating hospital in Arusha.

Tanzania’s poor road network and a shortage of health care professionals may also hinder efforts to expand the program at national level, PlusNews says.

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About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.