The Union World Conference 2021 took place from 19 to 22 October. The 52nd edition of the world’s largest lung health gathering took place online. With this year’s theme ‘Lung Health for All: Solutions for a New Era‘, the Unitaid funded, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation (KNCV) led ASCENT project naturally made a contribution. Two ASCENT staff members presented about the use and effects of digital adherence technologies (DAT) for tuberculosis (TB) treatment.
The ASCENT speakers at the Union World Conference were Job van Rest, Digital Health Consultant at KNCV and the ASCENT project, and Dr. Amare Tadesse, epidemiologist at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and investigator for ASCENT Ethiopia.
Planning and implementation of DATs; what steps to follow?
During a symposium on the use of digital adherence technologies for TB and its implementation lessons, Job van Rest presented on the five steps for planning and implementation of a DAT intervention based on the lessons learned from implementing the ASCENT project:
- Assess country preparedness to adopt DATs
- Design DAT intervention
- Budgeting for DATs and supportive infrastructure
- Purchasing DATs and related services/infrastructure
- And training and capacity building
Use of smart-pill box to improve TB treatment outcomes in Ethiopia: preliminary findings from the run-in phase of the ASCENT project.
At the session focusing on lessons learnt along the care cascade, Amare Tadesse illustrated on the importance of improving adherence in TB treatment and evaluation of DATs in providing targeted treatment support to promote patient-centered differentiated care to improve treatment outcomes.
The findings from the pilot phase of an ongoing pragmatic cluster-randomized trial in the ASCENT project in Ethiopia, indicated that patients using the smart-pill box had their daily medication dosing history logged in automatically (or manually for “missed” doses) on the adherence platform, which enabled health care workers to monitor patients’ adherence and provide support as needed. The smart pill box in combination with differentiated care could be an important approach for TB care in the context of COVID-19, where facility visits are reduced.