MSF is working with the Ministry of Health in Belarus to improve adherence to treatment for patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
Belarus is listed as an MDR-TB high burden country in the World Health Organization’s 2016 Global Tuberculosis Report. MSF is supporting the Ministry of Health in four TB facilities: the Republican Scientific and Practical Centre of Pulmonology and Tuberculosis (RSPC PT), 1st and 2nd City TB dispensaries in Minsk, and City TB hospital in Volkovichi, Minsk region. MSF provides psychosocial support (counselling, food parcels, transport vouchers, support by social workers) to between 150 and 200 patients each month to help them stay on their treatment. MSF conducted a review in 2016 and identified alcohol use disorder as one of the main risk factors for poor adherence and the team now addresses this in the programme.
By the end of 2016, MSF was also treating 50 patients with extensively drug-resistant TB with new regimens containing bedaquiline and/or delamanid
The MSF project is participating in the endTB observational study (output 1). The study covers more than 15 countries and aims to find shorter, less toxic and more effective treatments for multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) with fewer debilitating side effects. MSF is conducting the study in partnership with Partners In Health and Interactive Research and Development. By the end of December 2016, 46 patients in Belarus had been recruited for the study.
No. staff in 2016: 23 | Expenditure: €1.4 million | Year MSF first worked in the country: 2015 | msf.org/belarus
Anastasia – (30) from Minsk was diagnosed with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in November 2015.
“To learn that you are sick – it’s a shock. You don’t feel anything, it doesn’t hurt. But then you are scared: what will they say at work? I quit my job, spent three months in hospital. I felt bad because of the medicines: I was nauseous, my stomach hardly worked, I had no strength to get up, I was dizzy, I had pain in my joints. You have to take your drugs daily under medical supervision, because no sane person can bring himself to swallow the stuff that produces such severe side effects. And it’s every day, not just for a week, a month or even a year, but for 18-20 months ... MSF were there for me. Many thanks for their invaluable support. How many times have I seen the joy in the eyes of patients coming from the counsellor's office!”