MSF is now focusing on outreach to sites where nearly 100,000 displaced people live in Hargeisa, to encourage people to be tested for tuberculosis. Anyone with tuberculosis, including DR-TB, can then enroll in treatment.
"What is important for everyone to know is that tuberculosis can be cured, including drug-resistant tuberculosis," Madrilene said. "People with symptoms of tuberculosis should seek testing from a health center because treatment can save lives."
In 2020, MSF and Somaliland's Ministry of Health and Development began enrolling eligible DR-TB patients in an updated treatment regimen that is easier for patients to complete. It involves taking oral DR-TB medications for nine months, rather than for 20 months, which had been the standard course of treatment. The new regimen includes bedaquiline, which is one of only three tuberculosis medications to be developed in more than half a century.
In Galkayo North, MSF supports a tuberculosis hospital that serves people in Somalia's Puntland state and Mudug region. Since 2018, MSF has helped treat 51 patients with a nine-month oral treatment regimen for DR-TB, including bedaquiline. A total of 37 patients have completed their treatment while 14 are still on treatment.
The transition from injectable to oral medication enables DR-TB patients to continue their treatment at home rather than return daily to a health facility for an injection, as was the case before. Patients self-administer their oral medications at home with the help of a family member who has received training. Patients also require less frequent visits to health facilities, because the oral regimen produces fewer side effects that require monitoring.
MSF provides social support packages for tuberculosis patients including food, counseling, and psychosocial support.