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Armenia has one of the highest per capita rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) in the world, and since 2004 MSF has been collaborating with the Ministry of Health, running the only DR-TB treatment programme in the former Soviet Union country.
In the capital Yerevan, MSF has been running a project to diagnose and treat DR-TB in collaboration with the Ministry of Health’s National Tuberculosis Programme. In 2009, 130 new patients were enrolled in this project free of charge.
The treatment for DR-TB involves a daily cocktail of drugs that can cause side effects such as severe nausea, vomiting, renal problems and skin allergies. Treatment can last for up to two years, so MSF provides psychological and social support to encourage patients to complete it. ‘The non-medical support for patients is an essential component, since it increases the chances that they will stick to the difficult drug regimen they must follow for months and sometimes years,’ said MSF programme manager Jean-Luc Anglade.
MSF helps patients in five districts around Yerevan as well as prisoners in the central prison. In 2009 MSF also made more than 5,000 home-based visits to patients and distributed more than 1,600 food parcels.
MSF has worked in Armenia since 1988.