DOTS programme for TB starts in Nukus

Press release - On February 9, 2000 the international humanitarian organization (MSF, in collaboration with the Ministries of Health of Uzbekistan and Karakalpakstan, will launch a DOTS Tuberculosis (TB) program in the Nukus tuberculosis hospital. Following the successful tuberculosis treatment results in pilot projects in Kungrad and Muynak, MSF and the Ministries of Health will expand the tuberculosis control program to all of Karakalpakstan, beginning with the Nukus TB hospital. In Nukus, MSF will initially supply medical drugs, laboratory equipment and materials free of charge and will provide DOTS training for medical personnel. The Ministries will provide the infrastructure and human resources through the existing health care system. MSF's research shows that the TB incidence rate in Kungrad is 150 cases per 100,000 people and 250 cases per 100,000 people in Muynak - one of the highest TB incidence rates in Europe and the former Soviet Union, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The DOTS strategy aims to cure at least 85% of detected new cases of sputum smear-positive TB and to detect 70% of existing cases of sputum smear-positive TB. Once these targets have been achieved, the alarmingly high rate of disease transmission is expected to decline. The DOTS strategy (Directly Observed Treatment Short Course) is the TB treatment protocol recommended by the WHO. It is already being used in over 70 countries worldwide and has proven to be effective and efficient. In 1999, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, MSF developed a DOTS FOR ALL strategy that will lead to the eventual complete coverage of the Aral Sea Area in DOTS TB control. The Minister of Health of Karakalpakstan, local authorities and health officials have been invited to the official opening ceremony of the DOTS Tuberculosis control program in Nukus.