AIGHD-led project takes on world’s deadliest infectious disease

A project aimed at increasing earlier testing and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) in Tanzania officially launched on Saturday. Led by the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD), IBUA TB kicked off in Shinyanga, Tanzania and was attended by more than 40 guests, including regional medical officer Dr. Rashid Mfaume and members of his team.

IBUA TB, which stands for Integrating tuBerculosis screening into a Universal test and treat Approach, was developed after a 2012 TB prevalence survey found that only 37-48% of tuberculosis cases were being found.

TB is the ninth leading cause of death worldwide and the leading cause from a single infectious agent, ranking above HIV and AIDS, according to the World Health Organization.

Funded by the STOP TB Partnership’s TB REACH initiative, IBUA TB aims to improve detection of TB in communities in rural Shinyanga by integrating tuberculosis screening into the ongoing HIV Test & Treat program. This HIV Test & Treat program was recently implemented by Doctors with Africa CUAMM in collaboration with AIGHD and seeks to screen rural communities for HIV to diagnose and treat the infection earlier and reduce the likelihood of death. IBUA TB is also focused on earlier screening to save lives.

“Detection of tuberculosis is estimated at about 50 per cent, which means we know that half of the people who have TB are currently not being found, leading to sicker people and more disease transmission,” said Dr. Sabine Hermans, assistant professor and researcher with AIGHD and principal investigator of the IBUA TB project.

“It’s important to find these people earlier and get them on treatment before they become seriously ill and they can’t work or take care of their families,” said, adding that a lot of people in the community will wait until they have severe symptoms before they make the journey to a health facility, by which time it is often too late.

It is estimated that the year-long project, which also includes project partners the Tanzanian National Institute for Medical Research and Doctors with Africa CUAMM, will increase tuberculosis notification by 36%. The project seeks to provide screening to 10,000 people attending community screening events.

Screening begins this week in communities surrounding Bugisi Health Centre, Tanzania, one of the four HIV Test & Treat sites. Two days of training with local IBUA TB project staff and community health workers responsible for the screening activities took place as part of the kick off activities.

The outcome of IBUA TB will be used to determine feasibility and impact of rolling out tuberculosis screening alongside Tanzania’s recently adopted HIV Test & Treat policy at the three other sites.

Read more about the IBUA TB project.