WHO-recommended strategy increasing success rate of tuberculosis treatments

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Mar 25, 2013 - Page 3

Since its was implemented in 2006, Directly Observed Therapy, Short-Course (DOTS) has achieved a 72 percent cure rate among tuberculosis patients who received the treatment, compared with a 47 percent cure rate among those who did not, the Centers of Disease Control said last week.

DOTS is a strategy recommended by the WHO to control tuberculosis that emphasizes five elements: a commitment on behalf of the government to monitor and control the disease; diagnosing cases using sputum smear microscopy; ensuring that all tuberculosis patients follow a standardized treatment regimen overseen directly by a healthcare worker for at least the first two months of treatment; maintaining a regular supply of medicines; and the implementation of a standardized recording and reporting system to assess the results of treatment.

According to the center, not only has the strategy helped raise the disease’s cure rate, but also decreased the rate of relapse within two years of treatment from 1.3 percent in 2005, to 0.6 percent this year.

These results were not easy to achieve, the centers said, adding that DOTS healthcare workers had to deal with unwilling patients who sought to frustrate them by asking them to come oversee their treatment at odd hours, but the workers persevered and managed to get their patients to complete their treatment thoroughly.

The centers said that more than half of the people infected with tuberculosis in Taiwan are aged 65 and over, and that because an increasing number of these elderly patients are living alone, some of the DOTS health workers choose to spend extra time with them and even buy the patients basic necessities using their own money.