Building the capacity of community outreach teams is one of the priorities of South Africa’s National TB Program (NTP) to improve contact tracing, screening and linkage to TB Preventative Therapy (TPT). Outreach teams consist of community healthcare workers who act as liaisons between communities and their nearest health care facility.
At the beginning of 2021, the uMkhanyakude district Department of Health (DoH) requested training on COVID-19, TB and HIV for 20 of their newly employed outreach team members to increase the impact of these teams in their communities. Since health system strengthening and capacity building are prioritized activities of the USAID TB LON-SAFT Programme, training was scheduled and facilitated by THINK. Due to the significant drop in headcount among attendees to health care facilities since the start of the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, the training also included education on health seeking behaviour in an attempt to increase facility visits and thereby finding missing TB patients.
The USAID TB LON-SAFT Programme also established a roving outreach team to support the 23 high TB burden facilities in the district. This team is specifically trained on TB management aspects ranging from sputum collection, recording, adherence counselling, patient tracing and contact management. They often collaborate with the DoH outreach teams to ensure that TB patients are found and linked to proper care. Since the beginning 2021, the USAID TB LON-SAFT Programme has trained over 200 outreach team members in the uMkhanyakude district.