March 21st 2024

Envisioning a Tuberculosis-Free Afghanistan #WTBD2024

On World Tuberculosis Day 2024, HealthNet TPO proudly joins the global community in advocating for hope, reaffirming our dedication to prioritising the mission of ending TB. We align with WHO’s global campaign, spreading the powerful message 'Yes! We Can End TB!'.

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a major concern in Afghanistan, affecting many people, especially elderly women and children, the most vulnerable members of society.

Due to COVID-19, the target of achieving a TB-free Afghanistan and reducing deaths by 75% by the end of 2025 has been challenged in recent years. We join the global campaign “Yes! We Can End TB!”, confident that getting back-on-track to turn the tide against TB is possible.

Despite these challenges, HealthNet TPO, supported by UNDP, continues in its efforts to reduce the prevalence of TB in Afghanistan. In the last years, the estimated TB incidence in Afghanistan remained around 74,000 cases yearly. With our project, we ensured timely prevention and treatment to 14,232 people in 2023 alone, which accounts to around 20% of all national cases.

TB and Stigmatisation: Psychological Implications of the Disease

Tuberculosis (TB) not only affects individuals physically but also has profound psychological and social repercussions. By addressing the psychological effects of the disease and fostering community engagement, we can improve detection of the disease and mitigate the stigma associated with TB.

In this regard, the neurological influence of TB combined with social stigma often leads to depression among those afflicted, significantly impacting their lives. Misunderstandings surrounding TB persist, leading to discrimination within communities and consequently exacerbating the psychological distress of those affected by it.

How do our health workers experience TB?

Mr. Basir Ahmad, 30, Herat province

While Mr. Ahmad finds gratification in helping patients regaining control of their lives, he also acknowledges the necessity for improvements to enhance the detection, prevention, and treatment of TB in Afghanistan. He emphasises that supporting NGOs, such as HealthNet TPO, must continue their vital role in the field of tuberculosis, as these services are crucial.

When discussing the challenges faced by healthcare workers in Afghanistan in delivering healthcare services, Ahmad emphasises the difficulties encountered in the diagnosis process, particularly due to the unavailability of adequate medical resources. However, thanks to HealthNet TPO, their health facilities were recommended to the respective UNDP/GF for support in acquiring these machines.

This support has significantly enhanced their capacity to diagnose patients efficiently, particularly with the daily influx of 20 to 30 patients visiting the laboratory room for examination.

"I hope Afghanistan will be free of tuberculosis in the future, and I am confident that with the ongoing TB activities supported by NGOs, especially HealthNet TPO, the collective dream of all of us will be realised. One day, we will witness a future free from tuberculosis."

 -Mr. Basir Ahmad

Mr. Basir Ahmad, lab technician, Herat province.