URC to Lead Global Effort to Tackle Tuberculosis Around the World

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Bethesda-based University Research Co., LLC (URC) was awarded the TB CARE II project with a ceiling of up to $225 million from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). This five-year project will assist countries most affected by tuberculosis (TB), a highly contagious and potentially deadly bacterial infection which kills approximately two million people per year.

URC currently works in high-burden countries worldwide to support anti-TB activities. In South Africa, a URC team is developing strategies to identify and refer potential TB cases for screening.

URC is thrilled to announce our participation in this new collaboration with USAID as it affords an opportunity to apply URC's 45 years of lessons learned in improving health systems to the international Stop TB efforts.

Bethesda, Maryland-based University Research Co., LLC (URC) was awarded the TB CARE II project with a ceiling of up to $225 million from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). This five-year project will assist countries most affected by tuberculosis (TB), a highly contagious and potentially deadly bacterial infection which kills approximately two million people per year.

TB CARE II, which will begin this month, will further USAID’s global efforts to stem the tide of TB and support national TB programs in countries most affected by TB. The TB CARE II programs will be one of the main global mechanisms for implementing USAID’s TB strategy and contributing to TB and HIV activities under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) including the TB CARE I project led by the TBCTA consortium and KNCV, a Dutch professional association.

URC President Barbara Turner said: “URC is thrilled to announce our participation in this new collaboration with USAID as it affords an opportunity to apply URC's 45 years of lessons learned in improving health systems to the international Stop TB efforts. TB CARE II builds on URC's long commitment to fighting tuberculosis.”

Of the estimated two billion people around the world infected with tuberculosis, over eight million develop the disease annually. TB is a the third leading cause of death among women of reproductive age and is a leading cause of death in HIV-positive people, accounting for up to one third of AIDS deaths worldwide. Currently, 22 high burden countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America account for 80% of the global TB burden. In addition, in some areas of the world, one in four people with TB becomes ill with a form of the disease that can no longer be treated with standard drugs regimens. National TB Programs face tremendous challenges in reducing the rates of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB, which has also become a serious cross border issue. This new program will introduce a major effort to strengthen programmatic management of MDR TB.

URC is a member of the Stop TB Partnership and the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Stop TB strategy is the internationally recognized approach for building systems to combat TB. If adapted to local settings and implemented appropriately, the strategy, which supports national health programs, can achieve universal access to diagnosis and treatment for TB, limit the emergence and spread of drug-resistant TB, strengthen health systems, improve gender equality in access to services, and coordinate TB/HIV service delivery.

URC has worked on numerous numerous TB control activities with support from USAID, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), among other funders. Since the 1990s, URC has assisted in developing TB control systems in more than a dozen countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe.

URC, the prime awardee for the project, will work with Partners In Health, [Jhpiego, Project HOPE, and the World Health Organization in partnership with National TB Programs in priority countries. The TB CARE II team also includes technical expertise partners BEA Enterprises, Canadian Lung Association, Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute, Dartmouth Medical School, Euro Health Group, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, Medical Service Corporation International (MSCI), National Jewish Health, and the New Jersey Medical School Global Tuberculosis Institute.

The project will be led by Dr. Refiloe Matji, an international expert on TB control, who has worked for 15 years to develop national programs to tackle TB in some of the hardest hit countries. As program manager of the National TB Control Program in South Africa, Dr. Refiloe established and implemented the national strategy for DOTS (directly observed treatment, short course). This WHO-recommended TB control strategy was then expanded to the entire population of South Africa within 4 years.

Dr. Matji said, “This project is timely and will go a long way towards fighting this deadly disease. I’m glad to be part of this tremendous effort, with the support of USAID, which I believe will serve a great need in many countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe.”

Dr. Matji was interviewed last year by Ray Suarez of the United States Public Broadcasting Service about URC’s TB work in South Africa.

About URC

URC, which celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, is a global company dedicated to improving the quality of health care, social services, and health education worldwide. With our non-profit affiliate, the Center for Human Services (CHS), URC manages projects in over 30 countries including the United States. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, URC has about 500 employees around the world.

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