IMPACT TB dissemination seminars in Brazil: paving the way for new collaborations between Brazil and Asia

Posted on: July 15, 2019

By Noemia Teixeira de Siqueira Filha (Health economist, IMPACT TB project)

In May 2019, I landed in Brazil, my home country, to deliver IMPACT TB dissemination seminars showing successful experiences in the implementation of active tuberculosis (TB) case finding in Nepal and Vietnam. The seminars were aimed at paving the way for further collaborations between Brazil and Asia in TB research.

Brazil, a middle-income country with continental dimensions and a population of over 200 million inhabitants, is well known for its cultural diversity, but also for being one of the most unequal countries in the world. The increasing rates of poverty, malnutrition and poor living conditions create a perfect scenario for an old enemy, tuberculosis. The current situation of the epidemic in Brazil is quite challenging. The disease affects the most vulnerable and neglected populations: homeless, imprisoned and indigenous people. TB is also the main opportunistic and deadly disease among people living with HIV. Brazil is classified by the WHO as a high TB and TB/HIV burden country and concentrates one third of all cases in the Americas. Despite this challenging setting, the country has been successful in the implementation of social protection policies, such as the conditional cash transfer program “Bolsa Familia”. A recent publication at the Lancet Global Health has reported the positive effect of the programme on treatment outcomes. The programme has also been important to alleviate the high economic burden the disease imposes on TB affected-families.

The IMPACT TB dissemination seminars were an opportunity to show methods and preliminary results from different models of active TB case finding implemented in Nepal and Vietnam. We also discussed the potential challenges in the implementation of these models in a Brazilian setting and other initiatives in the fight against TB. The seminars took place in Recife, at FIOCRUZ and Pernambuco University, and in Salvador, at CIDACS/FIOCRUZ. The audience consisted of post-graduate students, TB researches and TB health workers. The seminars also paved the way for further collaborations between Brazil, Nepal and Vietnam. Points of interest are the impact of social protection policies on catastrophic costs, nutritional surveillance of TB patients and use of e-DOTS to improve access and adherence to TB treatment. It is great to see that this collaboration has already taken its first step: a post-graduate student from FIOCRUZ – Recife, Rafaely Costa, is current taking part in an internship programme at Birat Nepal Medical Trust in Kathmandu, a project partner. With background in nutrition and experience in TB, Rafaely will contribute to the design of a nutritional survey for TB patients in Nepal. More collaborations are expected in the very near future!

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