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Free Content DOTS in Cambodia

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Setting: Since the 1970s, Cambodia, a country of 10 million people in South East Asia, has experienced war, genocide and the virtual dismantling of the health system. It has a severe tuberculosis (TB) problem, with a new tuberculosis case notification rate, all forms, of about 150 per 100000 population and a tuberculosis programme, established in the early 1980s, achieving cure rates of only 40–50% in the last decade.

Objective: To describe the implementation of a DOTS programme (directly observed treatment with short course chemotherapy) under difficult conditions and its rapid success on a nation-wide scale.

Design: The World Health Organisation's recommended strategy was implemented in a phased manner throughout the country from 1994. The resources for TB drugs and running costs came from 13 sources. The DOTS strategy was gradually introduced after training and with regular supervision into 120 TB units inside general public hospitals at provincial and district level, after a mapping exercise; 75% of tuberculosis cases, all forms, are hospitalized during the entire initial phase and 85% of the total number of tuberculosis cases received free food from the World Food Programme.

Results: Two and a half years after the start of the new programme, DOTS was implemented in 85% of all public hospitals. In 1996, case-detection rates had reached 127 smear-positive PTB (pulmonary tuberculosis) and 149 PTB all forms per 100000 inhabitants; 90% of all tuberculosis patients received DOTS. From January 1994 to June 1995, 4164 new cases started category 1 treatment (2ERHZ/6EH). Of these, 89% were cured or completed treatment, 5% defaulted, 3% died, 1% were treatment failures and 2% transferred out.

Conclusion: The DOTS strategy can be successfully implemented in even very difficult conditions such as those found in Cambodia.

Keywords: Cambodia; DOTS; programme; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: WHO Cambodia 2: Ministry of Health, Phnom Penh, Cambodia 3: WHO/Western Pacific Regional Office, Manila, The Phillippines

Publication date: 1998-01-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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