The World Health Organization estimates that 8,700 people in Uzbekistan are stricken with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis—or MDR–TB—each year. Patients with MDR–TB must endure an even longer, even more painful treatment regimen than the already tedious process patients with drug–responsive TB go through. Due to high costs and the complexity of diagnostics and treatment, most countries with a high TB burden struggle to treat those who need it.
In Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan, MSF is working with the Ministry of Health to treat MDR–TB patients in the towns of Nukus and Chimbay. Some 1,300 patients have been treated since the program started in 2003. This year, despite an overall decline in funding for TB treatment the world over, MSF’s program in Uzbekistan was expanded to include more districts and to provide more patients with care and psychosocial counseling. But as the following pictures show, MDR-TB patients have a long and often isolated road to travel before they get better.