Stop TB Partnership

Training of Physicians for the Introduction of New Drugs for the Treatment of Drug-Resistant TB in Georgia

23 March 2015 - Georgia - Drug-resistant tuberculosis represents one of the biggest challenges for public health in Georgia. In 2013 one out of ten new TB patients was found to be multi-drug resistant (MDR). The country has achieved the universal access to MDR TB detection and treatment but has had difficulty bringing as lost to follow up rates and increasing treatment success. Due to the length and complexity of the treatment, currently one in three patients are lost to follow up, and the treatment success rate has remained at 50%.

In 2015, with the Global Fund support, the country plans to introduce the program-wide use of Bedaquiline as part of a combination therapy in adults with pulmonary MDR TB when an effective treatment regimen cannot otherwise be provided in line with the WHO interim policy guidance. Bedequiline is the first new medication for pulmonary MDR-TB with a novel mechanism of action in over 40 years.

In order to support the National TB Program in introducing new MDR TB treatment schemes, the USAID Georgia Tuberculosis Prevention Project led a training for TB specialists to ensure adherence to best practices in treatment delivery, to enable optimal drug effectiveness and safety.

In March 10-18, 2015 sixty-three TB specialists from all regions of the country, including the prison sector, were trained by a team that comprised leading local specialists including Dr. Lamara Vashakidze, head of TB department of Tbilisi State Medical University and Dr. Nana Kiria, clinical director of the National Center for TB and Lung Disease, along with international expert personnel such as Dr. Jennifer Furin. A two-day training was conducted in small groups of 15-17 each to allow for open dialogue and discussions creating an excellent platform for providing information about programmatic introduction of new drugs for the treatment of DR-TB for the treating clinicians. The physicians who participated were very engaged in the process and represent an ideal group for using the new drugs.

This training represented one of, if not the most, wide scale training of MDR-TB providers that has been conducted in the world. Georgia is emerging as a leader in the use of new drugs and now has a well-trained workforce who could be used to help provide training in other countries in the region and on an international level.

"This USAID-sponsored training is the largest ever conducted on the use of new drugs for the treatment of drug-resistant TB, and it was incredibly exciting to work with this outstanding group of more than 60 treating clinicians. Their dedication to their patients and their enthusiasm for embracing these new tools is inspiring. Once again, Georgia is leading the global fight against DR-TB. There is no doubt that this training will greatly benefit the country and the patients who desperately need these new drugs. It was a privilege to work with the URC team and our partners at the National Center for TB and Lung Disease on this ground-breaking work. Other countries in the region and around the world should consider following Georgia’s impressive lead". Dr. Jennifer Furin