The only laboratory capable of cuture and drug susceptibility testing in Botswana was the National TB Reference Laboratory (NTRL), which until recently was mostly out of commission as the TB containment facility had not been functional for almost two years.
With technical support from Challenge TB, the Ministry of Health installed a new ventilation system and Challenge TB also financially supported the refurbishment of the NTRL containment facility.
The renovation was successfully completed in August 2016 and the laboratory became fully operational and resumed receiving and testing patient samples on the 1st September 2016. The laboratory was officially reopened by the US Ambassador to Botswana Mr Earl Miller and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Ms Shenaaz El-Halabi.
It is with great sadness that we announce that Pak Jan Voskens, physician and Country Director of KNCV in Indonesia, died on August 23, after falling ill a year ago. He was 64 years old.
Jan started working for KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation as a consultant in 1999. He advised many National TB programs (NTPs) on the design and implemention of TB control strategies. In 2001 he was responsible for setting up the KNCV country office in Indonesia which covers 11 provinces and is now the largest KNCV team outside the Netherlands. He led the Indonesian KNCV/Challenge TB office until his sudden illness in August 2015.
Throughout his career Jan had a strong international focus. After studying medicine in Leuven (Belgium) and Amsterdam he specialized in family and tropical health. For several years he worked as a physician and director of a hospital in Lesotho. In the early ’90s he began working for the Dutch Leprosy Foundation in Sulawesi, Indonesia, and was heavily involved in a joint project with KNCV on the introduction of the DOTS strategy in the country. He worked for the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) for three years, and received his Master’s Degree in Public Health in 1997. For many years, he taught a Master’s Course in Public Health at KIT. As a KNCV consultant, Jan supported NTPs and NGOs in countries such as Kenya, the Gambia, the Philippines, Laos, Botswana, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Jan was a highly renowned international expert and colleague. With over 30 years’ of experience in TB control, he brought a wealth of expertise. Moreover, he impressed us all with his personal approach and genuine engagement. He always put the interest of patients first and was happiest when he was working among them. With his expertise, compassion and unconditional dedication, Jan has saved many lives. Tragically, Jan, our colleague and friend, passed away much too soon.
At the recent National TB Conference, in Abuja, Nigeria, Challenge TB Director Dr. Maarten van Cleeff, described the challenges facing TB control in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as those being addressed in Nigeria: “Despite the obvious synergies of tackling both diseases, HIV/AIDS and TB in the 1990s, we were still talking about collaboration. But now we recognize that collaboration is not enough – we actually need integration of services.”
Challenge TB is supporting activities in 15 states to help to expand TB services, especially diagnostic and treatment in high-population density areas and underserved areas. The government is reactivating 10,000 PHC and Challenge TB and other partners will collaborate with the National Primary Health Care Agency to ensure the effective integration of TB and HIV services in the process.
Dr van Cleeff said: “We all should remain creative and work in synergy. Not just governments, but everyone has a role to play here – the private hospitals, NGOs and faith-based organizations, traditional healers, the community and private companies.”
Mrs. Nora Rodriguez fought bravely to beat Multidrug-resistant TB and, despite suffering from severe side effects from the treatment, was a tireless advocate for TB patients in the US. A passionate fourth grade teacher, she saw herself forced to leave the profession she loved after being diagnosed but never gave up hope of recovery and returning to teaching once she finished her treatment. Nora died in her sleep on March 26 2016, less than two weeks away from finishing her treatment and leaves behind a loving family and many friends.
While 43 million lives have been saved since 2000, the battle against Tuberculosis (TB) goes on. TB continues to kill more than 4,000 people a day, more than half a million children become ill with TB each year, and approximately 10 million children are orphaned every year because of TB.
Challenge TB is working hard to save lives and prevent catastrophic consequences to patients, their families, and their communities.
Read about our achievements in the first quarter of our second year of work. This report provides a technical update on the progress we made between October-December 2015.
You can download the full report from our reports page here.
On the 20th December 2015 the White House released a national action plan for combating multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). The plan states that the United States will work domestically and internationally to contribute to the prevention, detection, and control of MDR-TB in an effort to avert TB-associated morbidity and mortality and support a shared global vision of a world free of TB.
The plan includes the following 3 goals as well as objectives and selected milestones:
You can read the full plan here.
The country director for Challenge TB Nigeria appeared on the most popular radio program in Nigeria to talk about TB in order to create awareness. Brekete Family (The Voice of the Voiceless), is a radio talk magazine program which is aired live every week day. Dr. Mustapha Gidado explained the symptoms of TB and informed the listeners that diagnosis and treatment are free. He also mentioned the recently launched hotline in Nigeria. The hotline is designed to create awareness on TB and to provide basic information on TB signs and symptoms. You can watch the show here.
Our first annual report gives details on our activities in each country, documents our successes, and reflects on the challenges we faced over the year. Challenge TB implements projects at the country, regional and international/global level with the majority of the program’s work being done through country-specific projects. As of September 30, 2015, there were 19 total country projects implemented in Year 1 under Challenge TB. In this report we also offer a glimpse of the Call to Action in India; tackling childhood TB in Bangladesh; and the roll-out of GeneXpert in Nigeria. You can download the report here.
If you are in Cape Town, South Africa for the 46th Union Conference on Lung Health you can find us at our booth, meet our experts, or come to the many symposiums, poster presentations and other activities we are invloved in. We look forward to seeing you there, so please stop by and say hello.
Indian actor and former TB sufferer Amitabh Bachchan has joined the call to end TB in India. At an event attended by the U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma, he said, “As someone who has suffered from TB, I can tell you of the devastation this disease can cause to a person’s life. It can often take months to be diagnosed. Even when the diagnosis is accurate, getting the right treatment is not always easy. Patients need intensive care and support from their family, communities, and healthcare providers. However, as a TB survivor, I can also tell you that this is a disease that can be fought against and won over. I believe we all have a role to play – as corporate leaders, community leaders, philanthropists, and individuals – in making India TB Free.”
Read about our achievements in the third quarter of our first year of work. Our third quarterly report provides a technical update on the progress we have made between April-June 2015 for 17 Challenge TB countries and one regional project.
You can download the full report from our reports page here.
Making Sense and Use of Routine TB Data for Management
Following on from a workshop at the Union 2014 conference and based on a guide developed by The Union and TB CARE and piloted with the Zimbabwe National TB Program, this post-graduate course will teach health staff and managers at all levels to assess their own TB data.
Register for the Conference and Course here:
The Union, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, has launched a free interactive online course, Childhood TB for Healthcare Workers. The six-module course is the first offering of the new Childhood TB Learning Portal funded through TB CARE I.
The curriculum covers how to diagnose, treat and prevent childhood TB, including how to perform contact screening. The modules are interactive and ask participants to make decisions about patient care in various settings through case examples.
Welcome to the new Challenge TB website:
Challenge TB runs from September 30, 2014 until September 29, 2019 and will align with the WHO post-2015 Global TB Strategy and the new United States Government TB Strategy to enhance focus on improving patient-centered quality TB services, building local capacity and the utilization of innovations and new technologies to move forward in the global fight against TB.
Challenge TB has three main objectives:
1. Improve patient-centered quality care and services for TB
2. Sustain and enhance systems
3. Transmission and disease prevention.