The WHO and UNITAID, have paired with the CHC in the battle to fight against drug-resistant TB, a potentially lethal form of TB which does not respond to standard treatment. The WHO GLC (Green Light Committee) approved CHC's application on behalf of Cambodia to receive low cost drugs to treat the hundreds of patients that are suffering from this potentially lethal disease.
At the request of the Cambodian NTP (National Tuberculosis Program), the CHC is providing technical expertise to the NTP in the development of the countrywide drug-resistant TB management plan. This involves clinical management of patients with drug-resistant TB as well as patients who are co-infected with the AIDS virus. It also includes drug-resistant TB infection control, training of physicians, nurses and community health workers in drug-resistant TB diagnosis, treatment and prevention. In addition to working with the NTP, the drug-resistant TB work is being carried out in partnership with MSF-Belgium and MSF-France. A major goal of CHC's efforts has been to pioneer a new community-based approach to diagnose, treat and prevent spread of drug-resistant TB based on CHC's successful approaches to TB and AIDS, which are now being taken to Africa. An equally important goal is to build the capacity of the Cambodian National TB Program (NTP), to lead this activity independently in the future.
"In Cambodia we have developed a community-based approach to drug-resistant TB that is working extremely well and that compliments hospital based drug-resistant TB care. We currently have 80 patients on drug-resistant TB therapy and have achieved 4 cures," says Dr. Sok Thim, CHC's Executive Director, who has extensive experience in treating and managing drug-resistant TB cases from the Thai-Cambodian border in the 1980s to the present. "We imagine however that the actual number of cases in the country may be threefold higher."
By building a strong partnership with governmental organizations, people working at the grass roots, WHO, and UNITAID, and harnessing CHC's experience, Thim notes that,"The CHC aims to provide universal access in Cambodia for drug-resistant TB. The CHC's experience in treating drug-resistant TB at the level of the community and in Centers of Excellence for TB and HIV care can provide a powerful new international model."