TDR and WHO launch a new digital health research toolkit for TB care

TDR, in partnership with the WHO Global Tuberculosis Programme, has developed an interactive web-based toolkit that supports national TB programmes and other partners to conduct implementation research designed to evaluate digital technologies for TB care. This will be launched today at a workshop taking place in Beijing, China.

THE CHALLENGE: Implementing and scaling up digital tools for TB care

The persistence of the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic demands innovative approaches to TB care and prevention. Digital technologies present novel ways to improve patient-centred care or to make better use of resources by TB programmes. Thus, digital technologies are emerging as important tools to advance progress towards reaching targets of the WHO End TB Strategy and political declaration of the UN High Level Meeting on TB in 2018.

These technologies are even more critical in times of crisis, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, barriers to effective implementation and scale-up of innovations are often context-specific and may require different approaches depending upon the setting.

THE SOLUTION: An implementation research toolkit focused on digital technologies and TB

Implementation research (IR) is the systematic approach to recognizing, understanding and addressing barriers to implementation and scale-up of effective and quality health interventions, strategies and policies. IR provides an important approach to evaluating how innovations like digital technologies can be used to overcome challenges in TB care, and to generate evidence that can guide their future introduction and scale-up in other settings. The content of the toolkit is also relevant to the application of digital technologies for other health conditions, including COVID-19.

The Implementation Research for Digital Technologies and TB (IR4DTB) toolkit aims to build capacity in IR and help fill knowledge gaps around using and scaling up digital technologies for TB care. The interactive toolkit comprises six modules that reflect key steps in the IR process:

  • Preparing for implementation research 
  • Developing IR objectives and questions
  • Research methods
  • Data management and analysis
  • Planning and conducting IR
  • Knowledge translation

The toolkit will be launched during a five-day training workshop in Beijing, China, 23 – 27 November, organized by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chinese Anti-TB Association, in collaboration with TDR and the WHO Global TB Programme. The training will be held in person for staff from the national TB programme of China, in 4 project teams, and virtually for participants from Malaysia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. The workshop will assist country teams to develop comprehensive IR proposals to study IR challenges related to the effective scale-up of digital health technologies for TB care in their home countries.

“The WHO Global TB Programme and TDR are helping countries to collect evidence on innovative digital technologies to improve TB prevention and care” said Tereza Kasaeva, Director of the WHO Global TB Programme. “The toolkit and the training course will help countries to mount more effective interventions and to contribute to global policy, at this critical juncture when TB practitioners face the added challenge of COVID-19”

For more information, please contact Dr Corinne Merle (TDR) or Dr Dennis Falzon (WHO Global TB Programme).

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