What is DOTS?

Updated at: Mar 30, 2012
What is DOTS?

DOTS: Directly Observed Treatment Short-course is recommended by World Health Organization as a controlling strategy for tuberculosis. The curative treatment for tuberculosis, DOTS has been benefiting over 60% patients suffering from tuberculosis.

Himanshu Sharma
Communicable DiseasesWritten by: Himanshu SharmaPublished at: Mar 17, 2012

Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) is an internationally acknowledged protocol for treatment of tuberculosis. Also recommended for some other infectious diseases, the therapy restricts creation of drug-resistant strains of the disease. Treatment of tuberculosis with the help of drugs evolved in early 1980s, but was soon labelled as global public health risk due to inadequately applied therapies. DOTS therapy for TB treatment was finally adopted in 1991, wherein World Health Organization cooperated with public health agencies.

Treatment for tuberculosis has come a long way since then, with effective therapies like DOTS PLUS coming in. With the view that more and more people could derive benefit out of it, treatment with DOTS PLUS or TB Drugs are structured to be cost-effective. It is estimated that short course of DOT therapy has a success percentage of 80.

Patients pursuing DOTS therapy are closely observed for the medication. The therapy is quite convenient, as progress of TB patient could be supervised either by medical professional or family member. Close observation ascertains that correct dosage of the drug is given to the patient for an effect. Because of this reason, TB treatment is carried out in residential clinic environment so that there is no negligence in the treatment.

Successful execution of DOTS includes five elements, which are briefed below:

  1. First element is political commitment, which should be accompanied by sustained and increased financial dedication. Government must support the social cause and make drugs available at subsidised prices so that everyone could afford the therapy. To the respite of masses, DOTS therapy costs considerably lower than other TB treatments.
  2. Political commitment is followed by individual attention and case detection. For ensuring this, there must be advanced laboratories, apt tools, skilled health care personnel and bacteriology techniques.
  3. Supervision should be carried out with commitment.
  4. Structuring a reliable drug supply system is another perquisite for success of DOTS therapy. Drug-resistant tuberculosis can affect an individual exposed to an unreliable drug source, having little variance in drug composition. TB Treatment course should be strictly adhered to, wherein same tuberculosis medication should be used throughout the therapy.
  5. Developing an oversight system for DOTS therapy is of significant importance. The oversight system ensures periodic evaluation and measures patients’ recovery.


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