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© Maria Borshova/MSF

Belarus

Belarus is key to a study to find shorter, less toxic and more effective treatments for tuberculosis

In the Soviet post-war years, Belarus became one of the most prosperous parts of the USSR, but with independence came economic decline.

The landlocked country, sat between Poland and the Russian Federation, has a population of 9.5 million.

Its capital, Minsk, is known for its monumental Stalinist architecture.

Belarus is listed as a high-burden country for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in the World Health Organization’s 2017 Global Tuberculosis Report.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is currently supporting the Ministry of Health in four TB facilities across Minsk.


Patient story

Anastasia, 30, from Minsk, was diagnosed with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in November 2015.

“To learn that you are sick – it’s a shock. You don’t feel anything, it doesn’t hurt. But then you are scared: what will they say at work?

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I quit my job, spent three months in hospital. I felt bad because of the medicines: I was nauseous, my stomach hardly worked, I had no strength to get up, I was dizzy, I had pain in my joints.

You have to take your drugs daily under medical supervision because no sane person can bring himself to swallow the stuff that produces such severe side effects.

And it’s every day, not just for a week, a month or even a year, but for 18-20 months... MSF were there for me. Many thanks for their invaluable support. How many times have I seen the joy in the eyes of patients coming from the counsellor's office!”


In late 2017, a team started to treat prisoners with MDR-TB in Orsha’s Colony 12.

Following a review conducted by MSF in 2016 that identified alcohol use disorder as the main risk factor for poor adherence to treatment, teams are exploring new measures to address this problem in the project.

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