Ron Haviv/VII
A 16-year-old girl who has MDR-TB undergoes treatment at home.

Patients with tuberculosis must undergo lengthy, arduous treatment regimens in the best of times. When stricken with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB, however, the road back to health is even more difficult.

This is because MDR-TB, which develops when prior cases of TB were treated incompletely or incorrectly, does not respond to the customary first-line tuberculosis drugs. With case numbers growing at an unprecedented clip, and with the highly contagious disease transmitting from person to person in some cases—MDR-TB is now a legitimate public health crisis.

In 2011, 630,000 cases of MDR-TB were diagnosed, according to the World Health Organization. With barely one in twenty TB patients being tested for drug resistance, this is just the tip of the iceberg. And yet the reaction of the global medical community has been slow, vague, and inefficient, particularly when it comes to developing better treatment options for MDR-TB patients.

The most neglected are children living with MDR-TB. VII Photo’s Ron Haviv visited MSF’s pediatric MDR-TB program in Tajikistan, one of Asia’s poorest countries, where the disease is indeed spreading at an alarming rate. Through the experience of an MSF nurse trying to care for children suffering with the disease, Haviv documents this new and very dangerous medical front line.