Translating drug resistant tuberculosis treatment guidelines to reality in war-torn Kandahar, Afghanistan: a retrospective cohort study

Anita Mesic, Waliullah H Khan, Annick Lenglet, Lutgarde Lynen, Sadiqqulah Ishaq, Ei Hnin Hnin Phyu, Htay Thet Mar, Anthony Oraegbu, Mohammad Khaled Seddiq, Hashim Khan Amirzada, Jena Fernhout, Charity Kamau, Cono Ariti, Diana Gomez, Tom Decroo

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

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INTRODUCTION: Afghanistan is affected by one of the world's longest protracted armed conflicts, frequent natural disasters, disease outbreaks and large population movements and it suffers from a high burden of tuberculosis (TB), including rifampicin-resistant TB (RR-TB). The study shows Médecins Sans Frontières' experiences with care for patients with RR-TB in Kandahar Province. We describe the uptake of RR-TB treatment, how World Health Organisation criteria for the choice between the short and an individualized regimen were implemented, and treatment outcomes.

METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort analysis of routinely collected data from RR-TB patients enrolled in care from 2016 until 2019. Descriptive analysis was performed to present characteristics of patients and treatment outcomes. Multivariable Cox analysis was performed to identify risk factors for having an unfavourable treatment outcome.

RESULTS: Out of 146 enrolled RR-TB patients, 112 (76.7%) started treatment: 41 (36.6%) and 71 (63.4%) with the short and individualized treatment regimen, respectively. Of 82 with results for fluoroquinolone susceptibility, 39 (47.6%) had fluoroquinolone-resistant TB. Seven patients with initially fluoroquinolone-resistant TB and three pregnant women started the short regimen and 18 patients eligible for the short regimen started the injectable-free individualized regimen. Overall, six-month smear and culture conversion were 98.7% and 97.1%, respectively; treatment success was 70.1%. Known initial fluoroquinolone resistance (aHR 3.77, 95%CI:1.53-9.27) but not choice of regimen predicted having an unfavourable outcome.

CONCLUSION: Even though criteria for the choice of treatment regimen were not applied strictly, we have achieved acceptable outcomes in this cohort. To expand RR-TB care, treatment regimens should fit provision at primary health care level and take patient preferences into account.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0237787
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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