Russia – 1 in 4 with TB develop resistance

The report reveals that in one region of north-western Russia 28% of all people newly diagnosed with TB had the multidrug-resistant form of the disease (MDR-TB) in 2008. This is the highest level ever reported.. Previously, the highest recorded level was 22% in Baku City, Azerbaijan, in 2007.

The WHO report Multidrug and Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis: 2010 Global Report on Surveillance and Response, estimates that 440 000 people had MDR-TB worldwide in 2008 and that a third of them died.

In sheer numbers, Asia bears the brunt of the epidemic. Almost 50% of MDR-TB cases worldwide are estimated to occur in China and India. In Africa, estimates show 69 000 cases emerged, the vast majority of which went undiagnosed.

Tuberculosis programmes face tremendous challenges in reducing MDR-TB rates. But there are encouraging signs that even in the presence of severe epidemics, governments and partners can turn around MDR-TB by strengthening efforts to control the disease and implementing WHO recommendations.

Two regions in the Russian Federation – Orel and Tomsk – have achieved a remarkable decline in MDR-TB in about five years. These regions join two countries – Estonia and Latvia – which have reversed rising high rates of MDR-TB, ultimately achieving a decline. The United States of America and China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), have achieved sustained successes in controlling MDR-TB.

Progress remains slow in most other countries. Worldwide, of those patients receiving treatment, 60% were reported as cured. However, only an estimated 7% of all MDR-TB patients are diagnosed. ‘€œThis points to the urgent need for improvements in laboratory facilities, access to rapid diagnosis and treatment with more effective drugs and regimens shorter than the current two years,’€ a WHO statement said.

WHO is engaged in a five year project to strengthen TB laboratories with rapid tests in nearly 30 countries. This will ensure more people benefit early from life-saving treatments. It is also working closely with the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the international community on increasing access to treatment. ‘€“ Health-e News Service

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  • Health-e News

    Health-e News is South Africa's dedicated health news service and home to OurHealth citizen journalism. Follow us on Twitter @HealtheNews

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