TREAT TB (Technology, Research, Education and Technical Assistance for Tuberculosis) was an ambitious initiative that was launched by The Union with funds from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2008. The five-year initiative aimed to build a successful research partnership model to stimulate changes in international standards and practice in ways that serve country needs.

TREAT TB sought to contribute to new knowledge through field evaluations of diagnostic tools, clinical trials of priority research questions and targeted operational research benefitting global, regional and country TB control efforts. In leading this work, The Union worked with international research partners and ministries of health (MOHs), as well a number of strategic partners at regional and national levels uniquely positioned to plan and implement research activities. The Union also took advantage of its active involvement in the working groups and taskforces of the Stop TB Partnership and the network of Union offices as potential platforms from which to coordinate activities.

Some of the questions addressed by TREAT TB:

STREAM: Can the treatment regimen for MDR-TB be shortened?

The length of treatment required to cure multidrug-resistant TB is a major problem for both patients and health systems. In the STREAM study, The Union is collaborating with TREAT TB Partner the Medical Research Council (UK) to evaluate a shortened, standardised regimen for MDR-TB. Enrolment for the trial began in 2012, and it will eventually involve at least 400 patients in South Africa, Ethiopia, Viet Nam and Mongolia. Read more about STREAM.

PROVE IT: How much will it cost to roll out a new diagnostic tool?

To meet the need where it is greatest, new diagnostic tools must be affordable in high-burden, low-income countries. The PROVE IT study assessed the costs associated with the roll-out of the new diagnostic tool Line Probe Assays. Implementation of PROVE IT (Policy Relevant Outcomes from Validating Evidence on Impact) took place in three countries – Brazil, Russia, and South Africa. TREAT TB partnered with the Desmond Tutu TB Centre in Cape Town; REDE-TB, a Rio de Janeiro-based research organisation; and Northern State Medical University in Russia are implementing the PROVE IT study. 

ORAP: How can academic-programmatic partnerships find practical solutions to TB control through operational research?

Operational Research is an essential tool for gathering data and finding practical local solutions for issues in TB control. The Operational Research Assistance Project (ORAP) in South Africa funded research projects based in settings where such research is a relatively new enterprise. Linkages between academic centres and government health services ensured both necessary support and mentoring, as well as the practical nature of the research activities. All of the projects were determined to be of great importance by the national Department of Health and are funded by the South Africa USAID Mission. Support was provided by from the Desmond Tutu TB Centre and the Free State Province Health Department.

Virtual Implementation Project: How will new diagnostic tools change the pathways to diagnosis and treatment?

For stakeholders from policy-makers to materials supply managers, it is essential to be able to envision the impact of new tools and systems. Using data modelling software, TREAT TB partners the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the National Taiwan University built a virtual implementation approach that combines both traditional transmission modelling with operational modelling concepts. The aim of this project was to provide valuable guidance on the effectiveness of and challenges associated with the adoption of new diagnostic tools in high-burden, low-resource countries.

For more information, download TREAT TB: Description of Research Outputs