Situated on the ‘silk road’ route, Armenia is a country with a rich cultural heritage and was the first country to formally adopt Christianity in the early 4th century.
It has one of the highest rates of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in the world.
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first began working in the country following an earthquake in 1988.
MSF’s work in Armenia: 2016
MSF is focusing on implementing new regimens for patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in Armenia, which has one of the highest rates of the disease in the world.
Tuberculosis continues to be a major public health concern in Armenia. The incidence of drug-sensitive TB is estimated at 41 new cases per 100,000 people per year, while 11 percent of new cases and 47 percent of previously treated cases are drug-resistant.
Around 10 percent of MDR-TB patients have the extensively drug-resistant (XDR) form of the disease. The main challenge when treating MDR-TB patients is the length and toxicity of the regimen itself – it involves taking up to 20 tablets every day for two years, and months of painful daily injections.
For some patients, a port-a-cath is implanted to ease the twice-daily intravenous injections. Permanent hearing loss, suicidal depression and psychosis are among the side effects of the treatment, which is only successful for around half of MDR-TB patients and a quarter of those with XDR-TB.
Armenia was one of the first countries in the world to authorise the use of two new TB drugs, bedaquiline and delamanid, which promise to be less toxic and more effective.
In 2016, this continued to be the focus of our activities in Armenia, and care of patients on standard MDR-TB treatment was handed over to the Armenian authorities.
Between January and December 2016, 66 MDR-TB patients started the new regimen, and a total of 79 patients were under treatment by the end of the year.
Find out more in our International Activity Report