Two on Tuesday – Tuberculosis

Yesterday was world TB Day. In honor, I’ll offer two resources about multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis. MDR TB is very very scary. It also shows the challenges of any kind of health treatment program. It’s hard to keep patients in engaged in a long course of treatment and it is highly infectious.

This article talks about MDR TB in the Kyrgyz Republic. As an added bonus, using an x-ray to diagnose TB, as described in the article, is not all that accurate. You can’t identify specific strains. You really need sputum smear microscopy to make it work.

For more information on MDR TB, you can check the WHO MDR TB report. I attended the presentation of the report in DC and it’s both seriously researched and as frightening as one would expect.

An addendum: Another interesting TB document: notes on communicating with the media about TB. The WHO did a brilliant job of this, as their fairly dry report on a technical medical topic got all kinds of news coverage, including the New York Times.

Jargon – Emergency acronyms

ECHO – ECHO is an acronym that doesn’t seem to stand for anything. It’s the European Union humanitarian aid department. ECHO actually gives grants to NGOs for humanitarian response, but everyone hates taking their money because they only provide 7% overhead.

GBV – Gender based violence, which means exactly what you think it does. Also referred to as SGBV, sex or gender based violence. A major problem in emergency situations, and may be perpetrated by the aid workers who are there to help.

HDR – Humanitarian daily ration. Produced (or purchased, anyway) by the military, each HDR will feed one person or one day. They are designed to feed large populations such as refugees or displaced people.

MUAC – Mid Upper Arm Circumference. A measure which can indicate malnutrition. Very frequently used by aid agencies to determine eligibility for feeding programs.

NEHK – New Emergency Health Kit. The old name for the Interagency Emergency Health Kit. Assembled by Mission pharma and sold to NGOs and other emergency responders, the NEHK has all the medicines necessary to care for 5000 people in an emergency situation. The drugs contained are all far from their expiration dates and the cartons are clearly marked, which makes them very efficient for emergency use. WHO often provides NEHKs to governments and NGOs during emergency situations.

OCHA – United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. OCHA is supposed to coordinate all donors in emergency situations. Since they don’t have any enforcement power, that rarely actually happens, even though everyone agrees that donor coordination is a good thing. OCHA’s annual budget for 2007 was $159,079,639.

OFDA – Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. An office within USAID that functions essentially autonomously. It is responsible for US government-funded emergency response overseas, including war, natural disasters, and other emergencies. Most emergency-response NGOs based in the United States receive all or some of their funding for their work from OFDA. OFDA is known for its ability to quickly identify an emergency and make funding available. OFDA support is especially valued because it has 100% line-item flexibility – organizations can make changes to their budgets as needed in rapidly changing emergency situations, as long as they stick to the correct total amount. OFDA focuses on immediate disaster response; therefore sustainability is not a priority and money comes from OFDA in a 6 or 12-month funding cycle.