DUSHANBE, March 24, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- The U.S. Government supported a public campaign to mark World TB Day and raise the awareness of tuberculosis (TB) among the populations most at-risk of TB infection.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the USAID Dialogue on HIV and TB Project and the USAID Quality Health Care Project supported all the events in close cooperation with government and non-government partners.

The spread of TB in the world and particularly in Tajikistan is serious. The global statistics are stark – 1.7 million people died from TB in 2009, which is equal to 4700 deaths a day. Additionally, 380,000 TB deaths were associated with HIV.  In Tajikistan, infection rates are very high, but there are improvements.  Ministry of Health (MoH) statistics show improvements in the number of new TB and HIV cases due to the introduction of the globally-accepted Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS) strategy and the efforts of prevention programs.

The USAID Dialogue on HIV and TB Project conducted a number of activities March 16-24, 2011 in Dushanbe, Vahdat, Kulob, Khujand and Qurghon Teppa to reach at-risk populations: sex workers; such as sex workers, intravenous drug users, people living with HIV, prisoners and migrants.  The events provided these groups with information about TB, its symptoms and means of transmission, the need for timely referral to health facilities, and the consequences of incorrect TB treatment. The agenda included sports and drawing competitions and quizzes on TB issues.  All participants from the at-risk populations and youth were awarded with prizes.

The USAID Dialogue on HIV and TB Project and the USAID Quality Health Care Project contributed to the reduction of stigma and discrimination towards TB patients.  Both projects, in close cooperation with the MoH press service, arranged competitions among journalists in four categories: best newspaper and electronic media article and best radio and TV programs on TB issues (March 26, 2011).  As a result, the best articles, TV and radio programs and web-articles that reflect accurate information on TB received monetary prizes.

The USAID Quality Health Care Project with the City Health Department of MoH supported the annual award event for the contribution of health providers (doctors and nurses) to TB detection and treatment.  The team, composed of specialists from National TB Program, Family Medicine, and the USAID Quality Health Care Project, evaluated the performance of doctors and nurses nominated by the heads of health facilities.  As a result, six doctors and four nurses from Primary Health Care and TB facilities of Dushanbe won awards.  The USAID Quality Health Care Project will award prizes during a meeting on March 31, 2011.

The USAID Dialogue on HIV and TB Project and USAID Quality Health Care Project are two of the many assistance projects the American people through USAID.  Since 1992, the American people, through the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, have provided approximately $900 million in programs that support Tajikistan’s democratic institutions, health care, education and economic growth.