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WHO launches new report on World TB Day

Burnet Institute

24 March, 2011

TB infection control.

One new person becomes infected with TB every second and, left untreated, each person with active TB will pass the infection on to 10-15 people every year. When this infectious airborne disease is combined with HIV the combination is even more lethal as each disease speeds the other’s progress.

World Tuberculosis Day – held each year on 24 March - raises public awareness about the devastating effects of the disease but also highlights increasing issues around the treatment and prevention of the disease in the developing world, particularly with the rise in cases of drug-resistant TB.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a report: Towards universal access to diagnosis and treatment of multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis by 2015 to coincide with World TB Day.

“Progress is being made, but the response is far from sufficient given the MDR-TB threat facing the world,” Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the Stop TB Department at the WHO said.

MDR-TB (multi-drug resistant TB) is caused by bacteria that is resistant to the most effective anti-TB drugs such as Isoniazid and Rifampicin.

According to the WHO, these forms of TB do not respond to the standard six month treatment with first-line anti-TB drugs and can take two years or more to treat with drugs that are less potent, more toxic and much more expensive.

“This WHO report underlines the need for countries to implement all necessary measures to address MDR-TB, otherwise the universal access target, set by the World Health Assembly, will not be achieved by 2015, with the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives,” Dr Raviglione said.

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