Key medical figures:
• 169 patients under treatment for TB
Tuberculosis (TB) remains a major challenge in Georgia, with many people suffering from multidrug-resistant strains of the disease.
Lack of access as well as poor adherence to TB treatment were at the origin of the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), a form of the disease that does not respond to standard first-line drugs as the bacteria is resistant to two main antibiotics. Today, MDR-TB also spreads from one patient to another. Treatment for MDR-TB is available, but it takes up to two years on a course of several drugs to be cured. People must also tolerate difficult side effects, such as depression, loss of hearing, nausea and vomiting. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) treats patients with MDR-TB in the autonomous republic of Abkhazia, and is also assisting with the development of the Abkhazian national programme. Activities include training, writing medical care protocols, laboratory support and the supply of equipment and drugs. The Georgian national TB programme is well organised, and MSF is currently in discussions with the Georgian Ministry of Health regarding clinical trials for two new MDR-TB drugs which will shorten the length of treatment and should result in fewer side effects.
Care for the elderly
An MSF team continued to provide medical assistance to vulnerable people in an access to care programme that started in 1993. Most of the 50 patients are now aged 70 or older, and live in Sukhumi, Abkhazia and Tbilisi. They are bedridden and isolated, and suffer from serious chronic diseases. MSF offers eye care, as well as material support such as wheelchairs, and an MSF doctor carries out home visits.
No. staff end 2013: 39 | Year MSF first worked in the country: 1993