TB Prevention Project in Georgia featured in WHO compendium of good practices

Two success stories from URC’s USAID TB Prevention Project in Georgia were recently featured in a compendium of good practices in addressing TB and drug-resistant TB issued by the WHO’s  Regional Office for Europe.

The first of these stories details the project’s collaboration with the Georgian Orthodox Church to facilitate early detection of new tuberculosis cases, and adherence to TB treatment. As in many countries, Georgia faces challenges identifying active TB cases, and ensuring adherence to treatment, especially among their most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations. The Church is an important source of authority and support throughout Georgia. The project developed a model in which patients could receive TB services in addition to spiritual support in the Church’s monasteries. Working with the Centre of Bioethics Studies and Culture, the project implemented anti-stigma and advocacy campaigns targeting religious leaders and hard-to-reach groups such as monks, nuns and parishioners such as former prisoners. The nuns and monks were themselves trained to identify potential cases, share disease information, and work with a network of peer educators to help ensure adherence. Approximately 2,500 people attended project-run meetings, with over 1,400 people undergoing medical examinations, of whom 40 were identified as presumptive TB cases and referred to care services.

The second story introduces an electronic health information system designed by the project, in collaboration with the government of Georgia, to strengthen TB surveillance. Despite a decrease in the overall number of TB patients in recent years, Georgia remains one of the countries with the highest incidence in Europe. The country needed a health management information system to provide timely and accurate data for case management and government planning and resource management. The USAID Georgia Tuberculosis Prevention Project helped introduce a range of m-health tools, including mobile phones, tablets and web-based learning systems, to facilitate information exchange and communication between patients, providers, and programs. The project also worked to integrate these new mHealth tools and protocols into the national system for TB case registration, laboratory test results and prescription and treatment monitoring components. The results include increased data-driven decision making, improved patient and resource management, and better monitoring and supervision of health care workers.

A priest in the Georgian Orthodox Church is receiving materials on the prevention, detection and treatment of TB as part of his role as a peer educator. Georgia, 2015
Priests, like the one pictured above, worked as peer educators in the TPP in Georgia, which facilitated close bonds between the church and NTP, including health professionals and TB patients. Georgia, 2015
March 18, 2016