Extensive review of TB prevention, care and control services in Armenia
Following a request by the Minister of Health of Armenia, the WHO Regional Office for Europe, in collaboration with key partners, organized a comprehensive external review of the National TB Control Programme. The extensive review revealed that, despite the great achievements of the National TB Control Programme, there are several major gaps which require urgent action. The programme has succeeded in reducing the default rate of new sputum smear-positive pulmonary TB patients from 14% to 8% in four years and has embarked on programmatic management of drug resistance.
The excessive hospitalization of patients and TB suspects needs to be curbed by rationalizing hospitalization and revising financial mechanisms. New diagnostic methods, including Gene-Xpert MTB/RIF, need to be introduced in a phased manner to improve early diagnosis of MDR-TB. The country needs to revise its national TB strategic plan and ensure universal access to treatment of drug-resistant TB. Diagnosis of TB and MDR-TB needs to be improved by providing a one-stop service for people living with HIV. A continuum of TB treatment needs to be ensured for (ex-) prisoners, strengthening the collaborative mechanism between the civilian and penitentiary services. The programme needs to continue its collaboration with civil society organizations, focusing particularly on injecting drug users (IDU).