Situated at a crossroads of Asia and Europe, Georgia, a country of just 3.75 million people, became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Foreign investment and economic reform have driven growth. Agriculture, including wine-making, is a key sector and joining the EU and NATO are among the country's top foreign policy goals.
Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a major public health issue in Georgia: 12 percent of all new patients and 39 percent of those who have previously been treated for TB have a multidrug-resistant form of the disease.
Approximately 10 percent of MDR-TB patients have extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB). Current treatment outcomes for these patients are poor, notably because of the length, complexity and toxicity of existing regimens.
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first worked in Georgia in 1993.
Our work there has provided a response to armed conflict, endemic/epidemic disease and healthcare exclusion.
In 2016, over 150 patients in Georgia were receiving bedaquiline or delamanid as part of an improved treatment regimen for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) – the highest number supported by MSF in any country.
We started supporting the Ministry of Health in the implementation of the new drugs in 2014, and continued within the framework of the endTB programme from 2015.
The latter is a partnership between MSF and Partners in Health and Innovative Research and Development, which aims to find shorter, less toxic and more effective treatments for drug-resistant TB (DR-TB), through access to new drugs, clinical trials and advocacy at country and global level.
At the end of 2016, an MSF team supported the treatment of 180 patients who had started on regimens including new TB drugs, and was preparing the launch of a clinical trial in Georgia.
The trial involves a shorter regimen (nine months instead of two years) based on the two new drugs, which are taken orally.
In Abkhazia, we continue to support AMRA, a local NGO created by former MSF employees that runs a health programme for 35 elderly people, as well as counselling and social activities for 40 DR-TB patients.
This year, MSF also arranged the transportation of more than 450 TB sputum samples for drug-sensitivity tests in Tbilisi.
Find out more in our International Activity Report