Setting: Brooklyn Chest Hospital, Western Cape, South Africa.
Objective: To evaluate the treatment outcome and 2- and 5-year follow-up of patients treated for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) with individualized regimens.
Design: Retrospective cohort study of all MDR-TB patients starting treatment during 1992-2002. Patients were evaluated every 6 months for 2 years after treatment and at 5 years when possible.
Results: Over 11 years, 491 (66%) of 747 MDR-TB patients received treatment with two or more second-line drugs; 239 (49%) were cured or completed treatment, 68 (14%) died, 144 (29%) defaulted from treatment, 27 (5%) failed, 10 (2%) transferred out and 3 (<1%) remained on treatment. Only 176 (36%) were tested for human immunodeficiency virus and 15 were positive. The proportion with a successful MDR-TB treatment outcome declined over time, while the proportion who defaulted remained stable. Among 410 patients who had not transferred out or died, 281 (69%) had 2-year data available: 185 (66%) were cured or completed treatment, 32 (11%) were retreated for TB and 64 (23%) died.
Conclusions: Under program conditions in the West Coast/Winelands District, default rates were high and treatment success rates low. Outreach strategies for MDR-TB treatment should only be implemented if adequate resources are committed to the program.