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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid