Ministers commit to implementing the nine-month regimen

Ministers commit to implementing the nine-month regimen

In a special session on Thursday at the Union World Conference, Ministers of Health from the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe outlined how their countries will implement the World Health Organization’s recommendation for a nine-month regimen in the treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), rather than the previous 24 month regimen.

Dr. Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial, Hon Secretary of Health, Republic of the Philippines said:

“We are optimistic, and there is a lot of political will to implement the new regimen. Our drop out rate with the 24 month regimen is high because of the long treatment period but the shorter regimen will reduce this.

“Our challenge is that we have 7,100 islands, and 42,000 villages across those islands, so it is going to be very difficult to shift from the 24 month regimen - that is being implemented nationwide - to the nine-month. We need to scale up, but will take probably two years.”

Dr David Parirenyatwa, Hon Minister of Health and Child Care, Republic Zimbabwe, said:

“The Union started DOTS, which was a huge shift, people had to take so many drugs, but they didn’t, so it’s a huge relief to have this reduced to nine months and much fewer drugs.

“We started our current approach in 2009, when the regimen is reduced to nine months we will find it relatively easy to implement with our centralised system.”

Dr Rajitha Senaratne, Hon Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, said:

“Our health service is totally free and for the first time we have started to run check up systems to prevent diseases.

“Once a new drug is registered we have an agreement to buy the drug and distribute it all over the country – and because we have free health service it will be equally used even in small villages.”

The session, moderated by Channel 4 UK's Health and Social Affairs Correspondent, Victoria Macdonald, went on to discuss the governmental approach to tobacco control and non-communicable diseases.