How digital technologies can empower patients to succeed in TB treatment

The run-in phase of the ASCENT project has started, enrolling TB patients on digital adherence technologies in the Philippines and Ethiopia. Ukraine, Tanzania and South Africa will follow soon. With funding and support, Unitaid makes this project possible.

Under the ASCENT project, thousands of patients in these countries will have access to digital adherence technologies, such as medication sleeves, smart pill boxes and video supported treatment, to help them complete their TB treatment.

Unitaid has published an interesting web story and podcast on the ASCENT project on their website. Interviewing a patient in the Philippines and ASCENT project director Kristian van Kalmthout of KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation.

PICTURE: Estela Mariano, 67, waits for her medication refill as TB nurse Christine Joy Buan checks on her treatment adherence record on the Everwell adherence platform. Credit : MLMorales/KNCV

As of today, 2100 medication sleeves and 404 smart pill boxes have been distributed across the Philippines, and 93 patients have been enrolled (…).

At the Arayat Rural Health Unit in the province of Pampanga, Estela Mariano, a 67-year-old patient with TB waits in the queue for her medication refill. She has been using the medication sleeve since the beginning of November 2020 to help her complete her treatment.

“At first, I hesitated to say yes,” she said. “How will a 67-year old widow who is unfamiliar with using a cellphone and finds it difficult to read manage to use such a tool? After the nurse showed me how to use it and gave me step-by-step instructions in Kapampangan, our local dialect, I found that it was easy after all. Following the arrows and the simple illustrations enabled me to take my medication on my own”.

READ the full story on the Unitaid website


Learn more about the potential of digital technologies by listening here to the full interview of Kristian Van Kalmthout, ASCENT’s project director for the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation.

The ASCENT project runs from July 2019 until December 2022 by a consortium led by KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation including PATH, the Aurum Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Credit: Unitaid, Thalia Bayle (

KNCV has been fighting TB since its establishment in 1903. Over the past 120 years, the organization has acquired indispensable knowledge and experience in the field of effective TB prevention and care, resulting in pre-elimination in the Netherlands and significant contributions to global evidence generation, policy development and TB program implementation worldwide.

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