Minsk is one of the seven sites of the TB PRACTECAL clinical trial that is aimed at identifying new treatment regimens for patients with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) that are shorter and more effective and tolerable. In 2021, the phase II/III TB-PRACTECAL trial from Uzbekistan, Belarus, and South Africa found that the new shorter treatment regimen was very effective: 89 percent of patients in the group with the new drug regimens were cured, compared to 52 percent of patients on the standard treatment regimens. Furthermore, the trial showed that patients experienced significantly fewer side effects from the new drugs.
In 2021, we also started a new program to treat people with hepatitis C in the penitentiary system, and admitted the first patients in December.
Since summer 2021, thousands of people have been trying to reach the EU via Belarus. While Belarus has eased the migration flows, the response from the EU countries’ authorities has been to declare states of emergency, mobilize military units and build fences at borders to create barriers for migrants. Stuck between opposing sides, people were effectively trapped along the border by Polish, Lithuanian and Belarusian border guards, which put people’s lives at risk.
Our teams offered medical and humanitarian assistance, including referrals and translation support, to people on the move dispersed in Belarus, while continuing to seek access to those stranded in the restricted border areas between Belarus and EU countries.