People with TB are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19. In Karakalpakstan, we have started a health promotion campaign directed at TB patients with messages related to TB and COVID-19 in Karakalpak language, using Telegram.
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In 2016, with the death of President Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan held its first elections since it gained independence in the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV care continue to be the focus for MSF in Uzbekistan, which is among the 27 countries with the highest rates of multidrug-resistant TB.
Treating TB in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan has one of the world's highest rates of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
In January 2017, in the Karakalpakstan region in the west of the country, MSF has launched an innovative clinic trial to find a better treatment for TB patients.
The side effects of the TB medicines currently available are often described as worse than the disease itself: nausea, headaches, deafness, and psychosis. Patients deal with a program of up to 20 pills a day alongside painful injections. Despite so many people living with the complex condition worldwide, investment and research into alternatives has been limited.
The MSF trial aims to evaluate regimens containing two promising new drugs, combined with existing and repurposed drugs, over a much shorter course of six months. This treatment has the potential to be more effective and more tolerable, does not require injections, and can be adapted for children.
As part of this comprehensive TB care program, MSF works with the national and regional health ministries to implement models of care that are more patient-centered, and in line with updated World Health Organization guidelines.
In the capital, Tashkent, we support the regional AIDS centre, with the aim of increasing access to diagnosis and care for patients living with HIV.
In collaboration with the health ministry, this project is a ‘one-stop shop’ facility to support the integration of services for HIV, TB, hepatitis C and provide more effective testing and treatment for co-infected patients.
In a coordinated agreement with the Republican AIDS Centre, MSF will test and treat high-risk groups, such as people who inject drugs and sex workers.