Countries facing the heaviest toll of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) are not moving fast enough to provide life-saving treatment, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
The World Health Organization reports that there are around 500 000 new MDR-TB cases each year, but that fewer than 30 000 people were detected and notified last year and only 3681 are known to have started treatment according to international guidelines and with quality-assured medicines.
MSF is concerned that many countries, particularly those that are classified by WHO as “high-burden,” like China, South Africa, or India, are not doing enough to provide treatment to patients in need. In addition, not providing appropriate treatment further contributes to the spread of drug-resistant TB.
Investing in research is also necessary. Treating MDR-TB is complex, lengthy, and involves the use of drugs that can cause severe side effects and are not optimally effective. There is therefore an urgent need to speed up the development of newer, better tests and drugs, and to conduct studies to optimize MDR-TB treatment. In 2007 MSF treated 574 patients for MDR-TB in 12 projects including those in South Africa, India, Uzbekistan, Georgia, and Armenia.
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Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
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