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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid