The emergence of drug-resistant pathogens, especially drug-resistant TB, has become a major public health problem around the globe. drug-resistant TB bacteria are resistant to the two first-line antibiotic treatments commonly used to treat TB. Curing drug-resistant TB requires treatment with more toxic antibiotics which can have many side affects for up to 2 years, as opposed to the six months it takes to treat conventional TB.
The Cambodian NTP (National Tuberculosis Program) entrusted the CHC with developing and implementing the countrywide plan for treating drug-resistant TB. The CHC drug-resistant TB Treatment Expansion Project involves the clinical management of patients with drug-resistant TB as well as patients co-infected with the AIDS virus. The project also includes drug-resistant TB infection control, and training of physicians, nurses and community health workers in drug-resistant TB diagnosis, treatment and prevention. An equally important goal is to build the capacity of the Cambodian National TB Program (NTP), to run this program independently in the future. Besides its immediate benefit to the Cambodian people, the CHC program is providing a powerful new international model for drug-resistant TB treatment that we hope to apply to the drug-resistant TB problem in other countries in Asia and Africa, beginning in Ethiopia and Vietnam. CHC turned the management of the program over to the NTP in 2012 but still continues to manage the care of all patients.
With the support of the Annenberg Foundation, and as of 2012 USAID through its partner WHO, the CHC has started desperately needed treatment for approximately 600 drug-resistant TB cases . 20% of Cambodian drug-resistant TB cases initiate therapy at home using the powerful community based approaches that CHC has pioneered for TB therapy with the assistance of patient supporters and CHC and NTP TB staff.