News / Africa

Researchers: New Tuberculosis Medicine Urgently Needed

Patients queue at the multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis hospital in Maseru, Lesotho, 18 Mar 2010 (file photo)
Patients queue at the multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis hospital in Maseru, Lesotho, 18 Mar 2010 (file photo)

Medical researchers are concerned the lack of new medicines developed to treat tuberculosis will encourage drug-resistant strains.  More than 200 researchers are meeting at a symposium in Cameroon this week to discuss future steps.

Head of the Novartis Institutions for Developing World Medical Research, Dr. Paul Herrling, said there are many reasons tuberculosis is an increasing problem in places like Sub-Saharan Africa. 

"The first one is that the last medicines that we had for TB are about 40 years old," he explained.  "And one thing that people did not know at that time, is that this is a very, very clever bacteria - like many others.  And when they are treated with the same medicines for a long time, they learn to escape it."

The Novartis Institute is holding the symposium to address challenges and try to determine possible solutions to tuberculosis.  Herrling added it that it was crucial to hold the conference in a country that is affected by tuberculosis, because too often the scientists developing the treatments do not understand the everyday realities of their patients.

"It is extremely important to understand not only the molecular biology of your patients, but their culture, their environment, their problems," said Herrling.  "And so very often our scientists, they live in laboratories working on TB sitting in Harvard or in London, and they have no clue as to what the disease really is.  And on the other hand, local doctors here have no access to the most modern science."

The institute notes that of the 9 million people diagnosed with tuberculosis last year, 30 percent live in Africa.  The disease also is increasingly prevalent among people with HIV/AIDS and kills two million annually.

"So many people are infected with tuberculosis, but they are healthy and have no symptoms, because their immune system keeps it in check," Herrling said.  "And of course, exactly what HIV does, it weakens your immune system and then those people who were healthy before now become actively sick and can infect others.  So it is very much reinforcing or making the problem much worse."

Some patients in rural Africa have a problem completing treatment with an antibiotic called isoniazid.  Many fail to complete the treatment that lasts from six to eight months, and even more in some cases.


You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid