MSF is trialling new drugs to treat Uzbekistan's high rate of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis

Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in central Asia.

The country was once at the heart of the ancient Silk Road trading route that connected China with the Middle East and Europe.

In 2016, with the death of President Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan held its first elections since it gained independence in the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Uzbekistan has one of the world's highest rates of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) - a difficult-to-treat form of the illness that doesn't respond to first-line drugs.

In January 2017, in the Karakalpakstan region in the west of the country, MSF launched the innovative TB PRACTECAL clinic trial to find a better treatment for patients.

Working with the Ministry of Health, MSF also provides vital care to HIV patients in the capital Tashkent, including those co-infected with TB or hepatitis C, and to high-risk groups such as sex workers and people who inject drugs.



Sponsored by MSF, the TB PRACTECAL clinical trial is a groundbreaking study to evaluate new approaches to combat MDR-TB - a strain of the illness that currently requires an arduous two-year treatment.

The side effects of the medicines currently available are often described as worse than the disease itself: nausea, headaches, deafness and psychosis. Patients deal with a programme of up to 20 pills a day alongside painful injections.

Despite so many people living with the complex condition worldwide, there has not been an investment in research to match. However, this MSF-led trial combines the first new TB drugs available in over 50 years with existing drugs to treat the resistant form of the disease.

In January 2017, 55 patients enrolled in the first round of the trial. And, by August 2018, the project recruited its 100th patient.

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