MSF in Armenia is working in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis Program. MSF is effectively the only international medical organization providing treatment for drug-resistant (DR) TB, which poses a serious health problem in this fairly poor South Caucasian republic.
A survey conducted in 2004 by the Ministry of Health and ICRC revealed high prevalence of DR-TB in the country. Adherence to treatment is poor in the region, and the TB treatment success rate is insufficient.
In 2005, when MSF initiated the DR-TB program in Armenia, it covered two districts of the capital city of Yerevan, with the population of approximately 300,000, and occupied a small ward in the Republican TB Hospital in Abovian, near Yerevan. In early 2007, a newly renovated 36-bed DR-TB unit opened in Abovian, where patients receive hospitalized treatment for several months under close clinical supervision.
Once the period of hospitalization is over, patients are further followed via ambulatory care at polyclinics or via home-based care in the two districts of Yerevan until treatment completion. Besides medical care, MSF provides counseling, health education and psychosocial support to help patients adhere to long and constraining treatment regimens.
In 2007, MSF program saw its first six patients completing treatment. More than 100 patients have been enrolled onto the program since the program started in October 2005, and MSF, in collaboration with the National TB Program, hopes to expand the treatment to other districts of Yerevan.