The Union’s Community Based Integrated Tuberculosis Care Project has built a volunteer network of more than 1,000 people within eight hard-to-reach townships of the Sagaing Region of Myanmar since the programme’s inception in March 2017.
The Union’s Community Based Integrated Tuberculosis Care Project has built a volunteer network of more than 1,000 people within eight hard-to-reach townships of the Sagaing Region of Myanmar since the programme’s inception in March 2017. To date, the volunteers have referred nearly 3,000 people showing TB symptoms for further testing and treatment. They also run information sessions, host support groups for patients and other affected by the disease and provide TB screening to the 900,000 people living in the townships served.
The programme, which is part of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Challenge TB project, implements TB care and case-finding activities in partnership with the National TB Programme (NTP). The Union works to further improve integration between TB and HIV testing and treatment services and provides technical assistance to the NTP.
Myo Ko, a 30-year-old from Tin Tein Yan village, has seen the benefits of this new programme. After working in a mining community in January 2017 and caring for a friend who was sick with TB, Myo Ko also fell ill.
“My cough was not getting better but I didn’t make the connection between my friend’s illness and what was happening to me,” he said. After participating in a health education session he met with a volunteer from the programme who encouraged him to get screened for TB.
“At first I refused but the counselor was a friend of my brother’s and I trusted his advice. Eventually I agreed.”
Myo Ko was diagnosed with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). Though he has struggled with the side effects of his treatment – Myanmar is still treating patients with MDR-TB with a treatment regimen that can last anywhere from 20 to 24 months – he is resolved to see it through. The volunteer network helps with the emotional support essential to his success.
The Union has supported national health delivery systems in Myanmar since 2005, partnering with the National AIDS Programme to provide antiretroviral therapy to more than 27,000 people living with HIV in the country. This expertise in both health service implementation and community empowerment and outreach is now being extended to the National TB Programme.
Read more about the Community Based Integrated TB Care Project.