U.S. Government Extends Commitment to Combat Tuberculosis in Ethiopia

Audience watching men and woman cut ribbon. (Embassy Image)New five-year activity will strengthen collaborative effort against drug-resistant TB 

Addis Ababa, February 18, 2015– Representatives from the Governments of Ethiopia and the United States joined with officials from ALERT and St. Peter’s hospitals today to inaugurate renovated tuberculosis (TB) laboratories and an outpatient department. The U.S. Government, through USAID, funded the renovation that included basic culture laboratory equipment, installation of a negative pressure system and furniture under its TB CARE I activity.

The renovated laboratories will strengthen and expand Ethiopia’s TB diagnostic services, directly supporting multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) services. Similarly, the outpatient department at ALERT Hospital, strategically situated adjacent to the MDR-TB ward and TB culture laboratory, will improve the MDR-TB outpatient service, creating better access for follow up services during the two-year treatment period. The renovated facilities will increase the capacity of the country to successfully manage drug-resistant TB, which is becoming a major public health threat.

People standing outside. (Embassy Image)Handing over the ALERT Hospital’s renovated facilities to Dr Taye Tolera, Head of Office of the State Minister, Peter Vrooman, the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Ethiopia, said, “The launching of Challenge TB is a testament to our commitment, engagement and continuous contribution to the Government of Ethiopia’s efforts to control TB. It is through our strong and committed partners that we have been able to translate our support into action and the U.S. Government will continue to support and build upon what we have accomplished so far.”

Building on the success of TB-CARE I, USAID also launched Challenge TB, its follow-on five-year activity designed to reduce significantly the TB disease burden in Ethiopia. Implemented by KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, the USD $2.9 million per year Challenge TB activity, with partial funding from thePresident’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), will expand comprehensive regional level support and technical assistance in the SNNP and Tigray regions, improve technical assistance to strengthen the TB Prevention and Control Case Team, and increase support for urban TB activities in Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, and Harari.

At the ceremony, Dr Taye Tolera called attention to the serious threat of MDR-TB in Ethiopia. “Prevention is just as important as treatment and USAID is supporting the Ministry of Health through different projects and partners, in both the public and private health sector, to raise public awareness on tuberculosis and the risk of MDR-TB, and enhance the quality of diagnosis and care to improve detection and treatment of this grave disease, which kills an estimated 36,000 Ethiopians each year.”

Dr Ersin Topcuoglu, Deputy Director of the Challenge TB project and KNCV’s Director of Operations, ensured the organization’s commitment and support to Challenge TB in the next five years. He noted, “Drug-resistant TB does not discriminate and we should all contribute and collaborate to stop the spread of tuberculosis and especially drug-resistant TB.

Moving forward, USAID will continue to support the Government of Ethiopia’s efforts to stop the spread of TB by 2020 through ongoing and new activities to increase prevention efforts and ensure access to quality diagnosis and treatment.