Feature story |

TB Patients in Tajikistan Celebrate New Treatment Access

Photograph by MSF
In Tajikistan, in an attempt to breakup the everyday routine for children undergoing TB treatment, MSF’s psychosocial team organises celebration parties as part of MSF’s pediatric therapeutic play programme.

In an attempt to break up the everyday routine for children undergoing tuberculosis treatment in Tajikistan, the MSF psychosocial team organizes celebration parties as part of MSF’s pediatric therapeutic play program.

In Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe, the project team has started treating a tuberculosis (TB) patient with delamanid for the first time. Delamanid is one of the first new TB treatment medicines to be released in over 50 years. The ability to treat using the new medicine follows several months of preparation and negotiation with the Ministry of Health and its counterparts. After viewing a Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) presentation that detailed the successful use of delamanid to treat multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB) and extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), the Ministry of Health of Tajikistan allowed MSF to bring the new medications into the country through a humanitarian import waiver. MSF’s push to import delamanid and bedaquiline (another TB medication) for the first time into Tajikistan added significantly to the country’s successful results this past year.

The event agenda includes a support group session which allows patients to share their stories and experiences while also fostering friendships with other children who are undergoing similar treatment.
The objective of the parties is to help ease some of the anxieties for children as they face prolonged hospitalization and lengthy treatment regimens for TB.

Delamanid and bedaquiline offer patients with MDR-TB and XDR-TB, who would otherwise have no other alternatives, a more effective treatment and reason for hope. In high burden MDR-TB countries like Tajikistan, access to new TB medicines is essential. The introduction of new TB medicines into the National TB Program of Tajikistan is a key objective of the MSF project in Dushanbe. Ultimately, this will lead to wider use of new medicines in the country and throughout the region due to improved collaborations with other MSF projects in eastern Europe and central Asia.

Children who had birthdays in the past two months are celebrated and given practical gifts including toiletries, while all the patients who attend are given a gift bag.
Patients treated at home, in community centers, and in hospitals are invited to the parties that take place every two months in the Machiton Pediatric Hospital. There is dancing, singing, cartoon character performances, and a group therapy session.

Until MSF began operations in 2011, children with drug-resistant tuberculosis—those whom first-line treatment fails—did not receive the more intensive, potentially lifesaving treatment needed for this form of the disease. MSF is working with the Ministry of Health in Tajikistan to treat pediatric TB cases and their family contacts, whenever possible on an outpatient basis, with nutritional and psychosocial support to help them adhere to their difficult regimens. In order to deliver the appropriate treatment the project also introduced drug compounding (combining drugs to create a formulation particular to a patient’s needs) to make pediatric formulations of MDR-TB drugs.
 

Children who had birthdays in the past two months are celebrated and given practical gifts including toiletries, while all the patients who attend are given a gift bag.
Children who’ve had birthdays over the last two months are recognized and given practical gifts including toiletries. All patients who attend receive a gift bag.

All photographs by MSF