Stop TB Partnership

Expanding patient-centered care for TB patients in Georgia

21 January 2015 - Georgia - Georgia is a small country facing a big problem from TB, and a looming crisis of increasing rates of MDR TB. Beating this disease requires mobilizing the country in support of TB control efforts and developing new and creative ways to improve patient care and access to TB and MDR TB services.

Working with the National Center for TB and Lung Disease and National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDCPH), the USAID TB Prevention Project in Georgia has initiated a number of activities that are starting to show results and point toward more work ahead in 2015.

eHealth system for improving data flow and patient management: At the end of 2014, a newly developed e-TB module was operationalized, in collaboration with the Global Fund TB Project. The system has components that allow providers to monitor DOT and provide cash incentives and transportation fees to eligible patients. Moreover, the system allows health care workers to target those patients who are most at risk for not completing treatment. An Android-based application allows community-based epidemiologists to better conduct TB contact tracing and track and identify patients lost to follow up. To support patient adherence and improve counselling, the application has a patient education module, which helps providers convey key messages and reminders, and is time- and geo- tagged for quality monitoring. When implemented fully, the eHealth system will allow health professionals to collect and analyze data to inform national program planning and policymaking. The real-time data will enable epidemiologists, healthcare providers, and policymakers to target resources, whereas traditional methods of data collection often lead to delays in resource provision. Additionally, policymakers will be able to develop effective communication strategies to target high-risk populations.

Mobilizing religious leaders to join the fight against TB: A new initiative to involve the religious community in Georgia is demonstrating the effectiveness of involving the clergy and religious institutions in combatting TB. The Georgian Orthodox Church is widely respected throughout the country, as both an authority and a support system. Working with the USAID TB Prevention Project and the Center of Bioethics Studies and Culture, the Georgian Orthodox Church has trained clergy members to raise awareness in their parishes to reduce community transmission of TB, to provide spiritual support to TB patients to improve adherence, and to increase access to TB services in monasteries. Through this initiative, Church leaders are able to reach socially vulnerable populations through anti-stigma information campaigns, using their well-respected position in the community to take an active role in educating community members about the spread of TB, as well as about its treatment and prevention in order to diminish TB-related stigma.

Information on TB is shared at a Theological Boarding School, Georgian Orthodox Church for TB Prevention. Tbilisi, Georgia, 2014