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Counselling services improve treatment adherence in India

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Newly released data from the Indian Government’s 2017 Tuberculosis Report shows that Project Axshya’s counselling interventions for patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) has improved patient adherence by two-thirds.

Treatment for MDR-TB is long and carries significant side effects that make treatment adherence difficult for the patients. Though the World Health Organization has recommended a shorter treatment regimen for MDR-TB, patients in India are still being treated under the previous regimen, which can last up to 24 months. The first six to nine months of treatment are particularly intensive, with the patient requiring daily injections and up to 13 tablets a day. 

In the past three years, The Union’s Project Axshya has reached over 8,000 MDR-TB patients with counselling services offered at health facilities such as chest clinics and DOT centres, as well as in patients’ homes. The role of counsellors is crucial in ensuring patients’ remain motivated to complete the arduous treatment regimen. Counselling focuses on treatment adherence, as well as psychosocial care, advice to families and caregivers and nutritional support. The intervention, which began in April 2014, is currently in place in 40 districts across the country.

The Government’s report also highlights the work of Project Axshya in providing information and TB screening to 14 million homes in India, through its extensive volunteer network. The programme also holds district TB forums to encourage community empowerment and ensure patients understand and are informed of their rights.

Project Axshya provides innovative and patient-centred solutions to TB with funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.