Tuberculosis is a major public health problem in the Philippines, and multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) is a particular challenge, with an estimated 15,000 cases in 2015. Treatment outcomes for MDR-TB are typically worse than those for patients with drug sensitive TB, in significant part due to the length of treatment and the potential for adverse effects from second-line medications.
To address the burden of MDR-TB, the Philippines National TB Program (NTP) has introduced the shorter treatment regimen, which was conditionally recommended by the WHO in 2016. TREAT TB is supporting the NTP with programmatic implementation of the standard shorter treatment regimen for MDR-TB (SSTR) through a multi-year project. The project aims to link international best practices and research results into practice for new treatment regimens. Our work includes in-depth, onsite technical assistance for clinicians and program managers focused on responding to clinical and programmatic challenges encountered during the national scale up of the SSTR, training doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers on clinical management of MDR-TB, strengthening the country’s pool of trainers, supporting the integration of active drug safety monitoring into all aspects of the SSTR scale up, and capacity building in operational research.