Why are we there?
- Endemic/epidemic disease
This is an excerpt from MSF's 2014 International Activity Report:
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to work to improve the quality and availability of treatment for tuberculosis (TB).
Uzbekistan is one of many countries in Central Asia with high levels of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB), a form of the disease that does not respond to the standard first-line drug regimen. Access to diagnosis and good-quality care is still limited and the vast majority of people with DR-TB remain undiagnosed and untreated.
MSF believes that introducing new approaches to diagnosis and treatment of TB—such as ambulatory care, rapid diagnostic tests, and a comprehensive patient support program including education, psychological support, transportation, food packages, and financial aid—will help increase adherence to treatment and control the spread of the disease.
TB Program in Karakalpakstan
In the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, MSF runs a TB program in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, helping patients manage the side effects of their drugs and providing psychosocial support to improve treatment adherence. In 2014, over 2,000 patients were enrolled for first-line TB treatment and 607 for DR-TB. Many patients underwent treatment on an outpatient basis, so they avoided the additional stress of hospitalization. During 2014, MSF continued to enroll multidrug-resistant TB patients on a shorter, nine-month regimen instead of the usual two years. The first people who started the regimen in 2013 finished their treatment, and MSF will continue to monitor them for 12 months to check that the TB does not return.
Treating HIV in Tashkent
MSF is also seeking to address the developing HIV epidemic in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital city. Teams continued to work at the Tashkent City AIDS Centre, and a total of 671 people were started on antiretroviral treatment. Psychosocial activities such as counseling were also provided.
At the end of 2014, MSF had 246 staff in Uzbekistan. MSF first worked in the country in 1997.
Rakhatay, MDR-TB patient
“I had been treated for TB in our local hospital for over a year. There was no effect. Then I was lying at home. I guess God had pity on me, for you [MSF doctor] came to my house and told me that treatment is available. At that time I couldn’t even talk to you, I could only listen.
“It’s my daughter Kunduz, it’s thanks to her I started my treatment anew. She convinced me; she told me that I should go for this treatment.
"Now I am taking drugs. Before, I could not eat: I could only drink black tea from a spoon. I couldn’t even raise my head. Thanks to God, now I can sit and even move around.
“I never miss even one day of drugs. There are nurses—Amangul, Umyt, Muhabbat—they bring me medicines. They are all such nice people; they coax me like a child, and make up different tricks so I don’t even notice how I have swallowed the medicine.
"I am so thankful to them; I have reached such a good state of health now.”