The Experience of Scaling up a Decentralized, Ambulatory Model of Care for Management of Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis in Two Regions of Ethiopia
Strong strategies, including proven service delivery models, are needed to address the growing global threat of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in low- and middle-income settings. The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of the nationally approved ambulatory service delivery model for MDR-TB treatment in two regions of Ethiopia. We used routinely reported data to describe the process and outcomes of implementing an ambulatory model for MDR-TB services in a resource-limited setting. We compared percentage improvements in the number of MDR-TB diagnostic and treatment facilities, number of MDR-TB sputum samples processed per year, and MDR-TB cases ever enrolled in care between baseline and 2015. We also calculated interim and final treatment outcomes for patients who had completed at least 12 and 24 months of follow-up, respectively. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of MDR-TB treatment-initiating centers increased from 1 to 23. The number of sputum samples tested for MDR-TB increased 20-fold, from 662 to 14,361 per year. The backlog of patients on waiting lists was cleared. The cumulative number of MDR-TB patients put on treatment increased from 56 to 790, and the treatment success rate was 75%. Rapid expansion of the ambulatory model of MDR-TB care was feasible and achieved a high treatment success rate in two regions of Ethiopia. More effort is needed to sustain the gains and further decentralize services to the community level.