News / Health

New Diagnostic Tools Help People With MDR-TB Get Treatment

A young patient with potentially fatal MDR-TB sits in isolation in a hospital in South Africa. (Photo: D.Taylor)
A young patient with potentially fatal MDR-TB sits in isolation in a hospital in South Africa. (Photo: D.Taylor)
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization reports tens of thousands of people with the multidrug-resistant form of tuberculosis are now getting treatment for this disease thanks to new diagnostic tools.  In advance of World TB Day on March 24, WHO says a project started five years ago is making progress in diagnosing MDR-TB patients who formerly were missed.   

The World Health Organization says nearly 500,000 people worldwide fell ill with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in 2012.  Yet, fewer than one in four of these people were diagnosed, mainly because they did not have access to the proper diagnostic services.

Five years ago, the World Health Organization and several partner agencies started a project in 27 low and middle-income countries in an effort to reach people with MDR-TB who are falling through the cracks of their countries' health systems.

'EXPAND-TB' project

The director of WHO’s Global TB Program, Mario Raviglione, says the project, known as EXPAND-TB, has made progress in ferreting out many of these missed patients.  He notes more than 70,000 new cases of MDR-TB were discovered in the 27 countries in 2012.

“In 2008, that was a year before we started the project, these 27 countries only reported about 10,000 MDR-TB cases," said Raviglione. "By 2012, the number of MDR-TB cases that were notified by these countries tripled.  In India, for instance, and this probably one of the best examples, this is the largest recipient of EXPAND-TB support, 16,000 people with MDR-TB were detected in 2012 with support from, again, this project.  It used to be four or 5,000.  So, you know, it really increased dramatically.”   

Percentage of new TB cases with multidrug-resistant tuberculosisPercentage of new TB cases with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis
x
Percentage of new TB cases with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis
Percentage of new TB cases with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis
The 27 countries involved in the project, including 12 from Africa, are found in all regions of the world.  Together, they carry 40 percent of the estimated global MDR-TB burden.  

The global health initiative known as UNITAID is providing $87 million to support EXPAND-TB.  Another organization called FIND is the main implementing partner.

Additional funding needed

Chief Executive Officer of FIND, Catharina Boehme, says diagnostics influences about 70 percent of health care decisions. Yet, she adds, only three to five percent of health care spending goes for diagnostics.

She says traditional diagnostic tests for TB can take more than two months to get results. However, she notes new technologies now make it possible to rapidly diagnose TB and drug-resistant TB in as little as two hours.

“In addition to the immediate benefit to patients, EXPAND-TB also, however, has created or has paved the way to the uptake and rapid uptake of future diagnostic tests… FIND is currently aiming to address in collaboration with multiple R&D partners the most urgent needs," said Boehme. "A rapid TB test for testing at community levels to cut transmission and a rapid test for extended drug resistance detection will be crucial also for the uptake of new drugs that are in the pipeline.”   

Tuberculosis is contagious and spreads through the air. South Asia and Africa account for nearly two-thirds of all missed cases.  

Most people can be cured of regular TB by taking a six-month course of drugs at a cost of around $30.00.  In comparison, it takes about two years to treat people with MDR-TB.  

WHO says the complex regimen of drugs needed to treat the disease can run into tens of thousands of dollars in wealthy countries. However, negotiations with pharmaceutical companies have reduced the cost of these drugs to around $1,800 for patients in developing countries.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs