by Tsira Chakhaia, TPP Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilization Advisor; Manith Hang, Project Coordinator; and Alisha Smith-Arthur, Associate Director
May 22, 2012
Georgia’s First Lady and other national figures officially launched the Tuberculosis Prevention Project (TPP) in Tbilisi in April. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and managed by University Research Co., LLC (URC), TPP will improve the rates of TB detection and strengthen and expand treatment of the disease.
The World Health Organization has reported that Georgia is among the 27 countries with the highest rates of TB resistant to most forms of treatment. Among new cases in Georgia, nearly one in ten are multi-drug resistant (MDR-TB). Resistant to at least two of the drugs used to treat TB, MDR-TB requires prolonged treatment and increased doses.
TPP is starting at a time of transition in Georgia’s health care system, which is being privatized. Collaborating with both private and public stakeholders, the project will help create a national TB strategy that will include reducing social stigma and medical and financial costs. TPP’s Chief of Party, Tamar Gabunia, noted, “The project aims to promote decreasing TB mortality and TB burden in general, including social, medical and financial areas representing a serious problem for our country.”
In addition to First Lady, Sandra Roelofs, U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John R. Bass; Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs Zurab Tchiaberashvili; and the Director of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health Nata Avaliani, MD, MPH, attended the launch ceremony. Minister Tchiaberashvili announced that: “International partnership is especially important in this case [of TB]. As you know, the Global Fund has been working in the area, and now USAID has joined the collaborative effort…. We do welcome this initiative as TB represents a significant problem in many countries.”
The launch was highly publicized on local Georgia TV channels Imedi and Rustavi 2 (see a clip below).
Over the next five years, TPP will conduct training and mentoring activities with different stakeholders to build local capacity to improve early TB detection. They will work to strengthen the quality of a key approach for tackling TB: directly observed treatment short-course, the internationally recommended TB control strategy. TPP will also assist in the rehabilitation of TB clinics and equipment along with providing technical support to newly opened private treatment sites nationwide to improve infection control and patient morale.