In line with the End TB Strategy that emphasizes the need for special care and social protection of TB patients, the Georgia Family Medicine Association (GFMA) team started discussions with the Georgia Social Workers Association (GSWA) to assess the possibility of incorporating a TB related functions into the scope of work of social workers. The thematic working meeting was held on February 16th with the representatives of the Georgia Nurses Association (GNA) and GSWA to discuss the role of nurses and social workers in TB detection and follow up care in outpatient settings.
The role of primary care nurses in active TB case finding and treatment support cannot be undermined. National TB Program supported by the Global Fund and USAID has been implementing a wide scale capacity building programs to improve TB case management at primary care level. However, so far little attention was paid to bridging health and social care services for better TB control.
Social workers within the state social assistance programs which regularly visit households to assess a social-economy status of families are well positioned to identify individuals at high risk of TB due to poor housing and extreme poverty. Social workers, if adequately trained, can make significant contribution to TB control efforts. At the minimum, they can advise on available TB services and reinforce health care providers’ messages on the importance of good treatment adherence.
During the meeting representatives of GSWA acknowledged the importance of multisectoral approach and social assistance for adequate TB case management and pointed at the need of corresponding competencies and resources to establish the optimal functional model of care. GFMA will continue collaboration with the GSWA to define specific tasks and social workers competencies for promoting positive health seeking behavior and providing social support. Moreover, GFMA and GSWA will advocate for inclusion of TB patient support in undergraduate and postgraduate training modules for social workers professional curricula.