According to WHO's latest report, Belarus is listed as a multidrug-resistant TB high burden country. We are supporting the Ministry of Health in four TB facilities across Minsk city and region. Minsk is also a site for two clinical studies into shorter, innovative TB regimens which use newer TB drugs, TB PRACTECAL and endTB.
In Orsha, teams also treat inmates of a prison with DR-TB and co-infections such as hepatitis C, for which they receive direct-acting antiviral drugs.
Our activities in 2021 in Belarus
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2021.
We continued to support six TB facilities in Belarus: three in the capital, Minsk, and three across the regions. We successfully advocated a person-centred approach to care and delivered a series of training sessions on this model of treatment.
Minsk is one of the seven sites of the TB PRACTECAL clinical trial that is aimed at identifying new treatment regimens for patients with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) that are shorter and more effective and tolerable. In 2021, the phase II/III TB PRACTECAL trial from Uzbekistan, Belarus and South Africa found that the new, shorter treatment regimen was very effective: 89 per cent of patients in the group with the new drug regimens were cured, compared to 52 per cent of patients on standard treatment regimens. Furthermore, the trial showed that patients experienced significantly fewer side effects from the newer drugs.
In 2021, we also started a new programme to treat people with hepatitis C in the penitentiary system, and admitted the first patients in December.
Since mid-2021, thousands of people have been trying to reach the EU via Belarus. While Belarus has eased the migration flows, the response from the EU countries’ authorities has been to declare states of emergency, mobilise military units and build fences at borders to create barriers for migrants. Stuck between opposing sides, people were effectively trapped along the border by Polish, Lithuanian and Belarusian border guards, which put their lives at risk.
Our teams offered medical and humanitarian assistance, including referrals and translation support, to people on the move dispersed in Belarus, while continuing to seek access to those stranded in the restricted border areas between Belarus and EU countries.
Voices from the field
This experience has changed our outlook on life.Polina, a patient taking part in MSF's TB trial