Shorter treatment for Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB)

While Tuberculosis (TB) cases in Bhutan has been dropping every year Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is on rise, which, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is an emerging public health problem globally.

As per the health report, MDR-TB cases in the country increased to 55 in 2016 from just six in 2005, while TB cases decreased to 1,145 in 2016 from 1,328 in 2010.

“After few weeks of treatment, most of the TB patients start feeling better where they stop taking medicine,” said deputy chief programme officer of the national TB control programme, Chewang Rinzin. “This incomplete treatment causes MDR-TB.”

Other causes identified are if the person is HIV infected, has diabetes, is under-nourished, those abusing substances and psychiatric conditions.

To sensitize and study the 2016 WHO recommended guidelines of shorter regimen MDR-TB treatment, the TB Control Program held a two-day training for medical specialists and doctors of all district hospitals across the country on 11th and 12th October.

The shorter regimen MDR-TB treatment reduced treatment from 20 months to 9 to 11 months. “The newly added drugs to the current regimen is more effective with lesser side effects, cost of drugs treatment per patient is cheaper and outcome will give better results,” according to Chewang Rinzin.

The training was also to share ideas and experiences of other countries that have already adopted and implemented this shorter regimen in the region and globally for the treatment of MDR-TB.

According to 2014 records treatment outcome of MDR-TB in Bhutan was 92 percent treatment whereas it was only 48 percent globally.

The TB Control Program is also in the process of developing guidelines and Standard operating procedures (SOPs) on WHO recommended shorter regimen. “The guidelines and SOPs will be developed and finalized and the program is planning to introduce this shorter regimen in the next 5 to 6 months,” Chewang Rinzin said.

Fifteen patients are expected to be enrolled in the 1st year of the implementation, which will be gradually increased overtime.

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