Celebrating Tuberculosis Reduction in the Kyrgyz Republic

April 17th, 2024 |


Primary health care providers from Kemin rayon of Chui oblast strive to provide quality care and support to TB patients.

Over the last five years, the USAID Cure Tuberculosis project, led by JSI in collaboration with partners, has enhanced TB diagnosis and case detection, treatment, prevention, and policy in the Kyrgyz Republic. As one of 30 countries with the highest burden of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), the project’s multi-pronged approach to strengthen the health care system and increase community awareness and engagement resulted in an DR-TB treatment success rate that increased from 58% in 2019 to 74% in 2023.

In close collaboration with the National Tuberculosis Program, Cure Tuberculosis has promoted person-centered, high-quality, and accessible TB care for all. The project also enhanced TB diagnostic capabilities by optimizing laboratory systems for faster test result turnaround times. In 2023, 95% of sputum samples were delivered to laboratories within the 72-hour standard. Prior to the project’s intervention, samples of various tests took several weeks or months, resulting in samples being rejected. The project’s introduction of advanced diagnostic technologies, such as the first-ever routine implementation in Central Asia of a child-friendly stool test, enables patients, including children, to start treatment as early as possible.

Nurzat, a lab technician, register the test samples for PCR testing in the National Reference Lab, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. (Yam G-Jun)

A lab technician views lab results through laboratory data management information system.

The project also moved TB services closer to patients and improved their quality of care by incentivizing health workers and supporting patients to complete treatment. The focus of the project’s support went beyond the patient to their families and communities at large. Cure Tuberculosis worked closely with community leaders, civil society organizations, youth groups, journalists, and the media to increase awareness of and change TB-related behaviors and attitudes. In the fourth year of the project, almost four million people were reached with TB-related information through various campaigns, helping to prevent infections and reduce stigma.

During a conference in Bishkek on April 17 attended by the Ministry of Health, USAID Kyrgz Republic, national partners, and care recipients, U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires Liz Zentos emphasized the successes achieved through the USAID Cure Tuberculosis, highlighting the collaborative effort. “Over the past five years, USAID’s Cure Tuberculosis activity has applied evidence-based practices to help modernize TB diagnostics, improve patient-centered TB care, and reform the policy environment to improve TB care for all,” Liz Zentos said. “These best practices now serve as models of infectious disease detection, treatment, and prevention. This has contributed to the steady decrease in the mortality rates caused by TB in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Cure Tuberculosis helped the Kyrgyz Republic reach new heights in diagnostics by supporting the National Reference Lab to become the first in Central Asia to receive accreditation according to international quality standard ISO 15189. The accreditation ensures that lab results are accurate and reliable.

To round out the project’s health system strengthening support, Cure Tuberculosis partnered with the Mandatory Health Insurance Fund (MHIF) to establish financing standards and mechanisms for TB treatment. These financing methods are institutionalized and secured in the MHIF budget law, and cover areas like the biological sample transportation system, primary-level TB service coordination, and an incentive payment system for treated TB cases. The project’s advocacy redirected the money saved from optimizing TB services back into the national TB program.

Through close partnership with the government, Cure Tuberculosis helped reform policies to support stronger TB care and implemented comprehensive digitization of TB services to streamline treatment and improve efficiency. National partners will sustain these advances.

Liz Zentos, U.S. Embassy Charge d'Affaires in the Kyrgyz Republic, engages with Cure TB staff during the project’s conference event.

Liz Zentos, U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires in the Kyrgyz Republic, engages with Cure TB staff during the project’s conference event.

USAID Cure Tuberculosis is a five-year, $20.2 million investment to support the Kyrgyz Republic government’s response to TB, with a special focus on DR-TB. The project is implemented by JSI in partnership with University Research Co., LLC and US Pharmacopeia, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and national partners.

Photos: Cure Tuberculosis

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