An Efficient Transportation System Saves Lives

Speeches Shim

Thursday, February 25, 2021
TB doctors have high hopes for her successful cure.
Photo credit: Lada

Timely access to diagnosis and treatment makes a difference, especially in tuberculosis (TB) care. In many regions of Ukraine, inefficient or nonexistent specimen transportation systems delay access to TB and HIV diagnostics and treatment. Often, patients were asked to deliver their own specimens to the lab. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the situation as oblasts had to prioritize COVID-19 treatments, leaving TB patients, especially those in remote areas, to their own devices.

Lada, a 38-year-old patient from Kherson with a master’s degree in finance, was employed at a local bank. During the summer of 2020, she was hospitalized with a lung disorder and tests showed tuberculosis. She was referred to the TB Medical Center in Kherson for further diagnostics, but the most advanced testing was in neighboring Mykolaiv Oblast. Thanks to the availability of a transportation system for testing samples, TB doctors promptly sent her samples there. Results confirmed drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), one of the most difficult forms of TB to treat.Lada was quickly put on a new generation of TB drugs.

Since October 2019, USAID’s Support TB Control Efforts in Ukraine activity has provided comprehensive support for TB control in 12 oblasts. At the activity’s onset, specimen transportation was one of the weakest links in Ukraine’s National TB Program. The USAID team responded by launching a functional transportation system in Cherkasy Oblast in June 2020, which relies on USAID-procured coolers to preserve the specimens being transported.

The USAID team also helped oblast experts plan flexible and adaptable transportation routes. Today, vehicles do rounds four times per week and ensure transportation to and from each primary health care facility at least once a week. This comprehensive, integrated transportation model now covers all public health services, including TB, HIV and COVID-19. Transportation systems are up and running in eight activity-supported obasts: Cherkasy, Poltava, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Odesa, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Dnipropetrovsk. 

Rapid diagnostics and timely TB treatment resulted in Lada’s optimistic prognosis and the ability to halt the progress of the infection after only a month of treatment. Now, she is ready to be discharged from the hospital to continue treatment at home. Lada and her doctors have high hopes for her successful cure.

Last updated: November 19, 2021

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