Prospects for tuberculosis elimination in Ethiopia: feasibility, challenges, and opportunities

Tefera Belachew Agizew, Zewdu Gashu Dememew, Taye Leta, Nebiyu Hiruy, Emawayish Tesema, Eshetu Abdissa Abelti, Asfawesen Gebreyohannes, Yohannes Molla Alemayehu, Ahmed Bedru Omer, Pedro Guillermo Suarez, Yewulsew Kassie, Anteneh Kassa, Daniel Gemechu, and Degu Jerene


To end the global tuberculosis (TB) epidemic and eliminate TB, countries around the world committed to significantly expanding the scope of their efforts, including rapid uptake of new tools, interventions, and strategies, and envisioned a world free of TB. Between 2010 and 2020, Ethiopia experienced a 5% average annual decline in TB incidence. However, at that current rate, ending the TB epidemic (<10 TB cases/100,000 population) may not be possible soon. As a high TB and TB/HIV burden country, Ethiopia’s TB epidemic is characterized by a high rate of transmission in the general population and hard-to-reach areas and progression of latent TB infection (LTBI) rather than cross-border migration. Studies suggest that a combination of interventions, such as intensive household screening with TB preventive therapy, has the potential to significantly decrease the incidence of TB. The feasibility of reducing the population-level TB incidence by a combination of interventions in Ethiopia is unknown. Based on the World Health Organization’s TB elimination framework and the END TB strategic documents and previously published reviews in TB elimination we conducted a narrative review to summarize and estimated the effect of a combined intervention package (community-based TB screening for active case finding and TB and LTBI prevention and treatment among high-risk groups like household and close contacts). The projected annual decline of TB incidence was above 16%. With this level of impact and nationwide scale-up of the interventions, Ethiopia aligns well with ending the TB epidemic before 2035 and shifting toward TB elimination in the foreseeable future. In the Ethiopia setting, we recommend future studies generating evidence on the impact of the combination intervention package to reduce TB incidence in Ethiopia, which is aiming to shift from control to TB elimination.

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