The Unitaid-funded ASCENT ( Adherence Support Coalition to End TB) project aims to help patients succeed in TB treatment using digital adherence technology.

Tuberculosis (TB) is still the deadliest infectious disease worldwide, killing over 4.000 people every day. This is unnecessary as TB can be cured with appropriate treatment. A number of barriers however, prevent patients from recovering from this disease, including long and complicated treatment regimens that involve the daily intake of medicines over the course of 6-24 months. Missing even a few daily doses or interrupting treatment can lead to resistance to the TB medicines and/or return of the disease later in life. Therefore, patients normally need to be observed when taking their daily medication either by visiting the health center or by a health care worker at their home. Obviously, these supportive measures put a burden on both the patient and the health system. By leveraging today’s powerful information and communication technologies, the ASCENT project (Adherence Support Coalition to End TB) aims to support TB patients with their treatment in a modern and more effective way.

Rethinking optimal care for TB patients

Historically, the most widely-implemented means of supporting TB patients and ensuring adherence for their treatment is Directly Observed Treatment (DOT). With DOT, a healthcare worker observes (in-person) the patient’s daily ingestion of medication, either at the healthcare facility or patient’s home. The DOT approach has advanced global decline in TB incidence. However innovations are needed to address existing gaps, enable system efficiencies, improve patient-centered care, empower providers and patients and achieve greater impact for all types of TB.

The ASCENT project helps patients successfully complete their course of treatment through the use of digital adherence technologies and data-driven support interventions, utilizing tools such as smart pill boxes and other innovations.

These digital adherence technologies empower patients to take their daily medication at a time and place that suits them best. Additionally they provide real-time information to the TB doctor or nurse, helping to determine the most appropriate treatment approach for each individual patient and by enabling focused efforts on those patients that require extra support.

At this moment, these technologies are only used on a small scale in the international fight against TB. The ASCENT project aims to make them accessible to all TB patients worldwide.

The ASCENT project (July 2019 – Dec 2022) will build on existing evidence, innovations in adherence technology and growing global momentum to implement integrated digital adherence technology interventions in five key countries (Ethiopia, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, and Ukraine) for all types of TB (DS-TB, DR-TB, LTBI). Comprised of four key outputs, the ASCENT project will operationalize a digital adherence technology intervention in diverse geographic, cultural, and infrastructural settings.

THE FOUR KEY OUTPUTS