Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is working with the authorities in western Somaliland and Somalia‘s Puntland state to improve care for patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) using an updated, shorter oral treatment regimen, MSF said on Tuesday.

“Tuberculosis is a longstanding health concern in this region. We are focusing specifically on improving care for people with drug-resistant tuberculosis because it is more complicated for the patient and the medical system to manage,” Jocelyne Madrilene, the head of MSF’s tuberculosis program in Somaliland, said as quoted in the press release.

The NGO said, citing the data of the World Health Organization that Somalia and Somaliland have 26 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis per 100,000 people per year, which is among the highest rates in Africa.

The disease spreads more easily when health and living conditions make people more vulnerable. The situation is exacerbated over the fact that the density of population in some areas is very high as people are forced to flee violence and droughts that increases the risk of tuberculosis transmission within a household.

MSF started supporting Somaliland in the diagnosis and treatment of DR-TB in 2019 and there are several hospitals, where people may receive relevant medical and technical assistant. Nearly 100 patients with DR-TB have received treatment through this initiative in Somaliland, 39 of whom have completed their treatment.

Somaliland is the self-proclaimed country in the Horn of Africa, internationally considered to be part of Somalia.