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Public health benefits of shifting from hospital-focused to ambulatory TB care in Eastern Europe: Optimising TB investments in Belarus, the Republic of Moldova, and Romania.

Kelly SL, Jaoude GJA, Palmer T, Skordis J, Haghparast-Bidgoli H, Goscé L, Jarvis SJ, Kedziora DJ, Abeysuriya R, Benedikt C, Fraser-Hurt N, Shubber Z, Cheikh N, Bivol S, Roberts A, Wilson DP, Martin-Hughes R

  • Journal PLOS Global Public Health

  • Published 21 Jun 2023

  • Volume 3

  • ISSUE 6

  • Pagination e0001025

  • DOI 10.1371/journal.pgph.0001025


High rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) continue to threaten public health, especially in Eastern Europe. Costs for treating DR-TB are substantially higher than treating drug-susceptible TB, and higher yet if DR-TB services are delivered in hospital. The WHO recommends that multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB be treated using mainly ambulatory care, shown to have non-inferior health outcomes, however, there has been a delay to transition away from hospital-focused MDR-TB care in certain Eastern European countries. Allocative efficiency analyses were conducted for three countries in Eastern Europe, Belarus, the Republic of Moldova, and Romania, to minimise a combination of TB incidence, prevalence, and mortality by 2035. A primary focus of these studies was to determine the health benefits and financial savings that could be realised if DR-TB service delivery shifted from hospital-focused to ambulatory care. Here we provide a comprehensive assessment of findings from these studies to demonstrate the collective benefit of transitioning from hospital-focused to ambulatory TB care, and to address common regional considerations. We highlight that transitioning from hospital-focused to ambulatory TB care could reduce treatment costs by 20% in Romania, 24% in Moldova, and by as much as 40% in Belarus or almost 35 million US dollars across these three countries by 2035 without affecting quality of care. Improved TB outcomes could be achieved, however, without additional spending by reinvesting these savings in higher-impact TB diagnosis and more efficacious DR-TB treatment regimens. We found commonalities in the large portion of TB cases treated in hospital across these three regional countries, and similar obstacles to transitioning to ambulatory care. National governments in the Eastern European region should examine barriers delaying adoption of ambulatory DR-TB care and consider lost opportunities caused by delays in switching to more efficient treatment modes.