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DOST study to halt drug-resistant TB reports 70% to 80% success rate

Extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB occurs when a mycobacterium tuberculosis strain is resistant to two of the most powerful first-line drugs, as well as key drugs of the second line regimen. The XDR TB strains may also be resistant to additional drugs, greatly complicating the therapy.

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCHRD) is supporting a project to control and stop drug-resistant tuberculosis in the country which has recorded a 70 percent to 80 percent success rate.

Titled “Community Approach to Control and Halt Drug-Resistant TB [COACH DRTB],” the five-year project is being led by Dr. Charles Yu from De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute (DLSMHSI), Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said in his recent weekly DOST Report.

Currently, the success rate of the project is 70 percent to 80 percent which is a combination of the patients cured and completed the treatment.

The success rate of the project is remarkably high and comparably sustained even during the lockdown brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, de la Peña said.

The project aims to determine the effectiveness of the community-based approach strategy to control and halt drug-resistant tuberculosis in the detection and treatment of drug-resistant TB in the Philippines.

The five-year project, which is currently in its fourth year of implementation, is one of the projects supported by the Regional Prospective Observational Research for Tuberculosis (RePORT) International Program that aims to advance regional tuberculosis science that is relevant in a global context.

Following the RePORT Common Protocol platform, the COACH DRTB project is conducting targeted intensified case finding in selected communities, using a community-based approach rather than a facility-based approach.

These outcomes were chosen as they reflect completion of treatment as well as the level of quality of care.

In addition, the project assesses the outcomes in children who were previously diagnosed to have TB disease, latent TB infection (LTBI), or were exposed.

A major feature of the COACH DRTB study is the deployment of existing TB health community workers, or “Kagabays,” to the community for case finding, treatment monitoring and case-holding.

This uses the home as the treatment site since there has been an increasing number of DRTB cases that are lost to follow up in the present set-up.

Kagabays are barangay health workers who were trained as educators, counselors, and treatment partners for DRTB in 2015.

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