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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid