WHO stresses earlier, faster diagnosis of tuberculosis to prevent drug-resistant forms

WHO stresses earlier, faster diagnosis of tuberculosis to prevent drug-resistant forms

The WHO warns for a need for faster, earlier detection of tuberculosis.

Despite a high number of people who fell ill with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in 2012, just 1 out of every 4 individuals was diagnosed, according to the World Health Organization. As rates of infection are soaring, so are deaths from MDR-TB.

TB infects approximately 9 million people around the globe each year. Nearly a third of those who are infected don’t receive the proper treatment. The result is that the TB develops into an evolved form that resists current drug treatments. This leads to the public becoming increasingly alarmed about the disease, which is already serious in treatable forms.

Margaret Chan, WHO’s director general, said, “Earlier and faster diagnosis of all forms of TB is vital.” She continued, “It improves the chances of people getting the right treatment and being cured, and it helps stop the spread of drug-resistant disease.”

The WHO announced in a precursor to World TB Day in late March that an innovative international project involving 27 countries is making exciting progress against MDR-TB.

The project, EXPAND-TB, or Expanding Access to New Diagnostics for TB), is financed by UNITAID. Through the project, the number of MDR-TB cases that were diagnosed in participating countries tripled.

Last year, the WHO asked for MDR-TB to be recognized as a grim public health crisis. The organization says that the disease is contagious, and that superbug forms that can lead to death for those who are infected pose “grave consequences for those affected.”

Even treating the regular form of TB is an arduous process. Infected patients are required to take a blend of cocktails for 6 months. Many of the patients do not complete the required treatment.

This failure of patients to complete their antibiotics has played a large role in leading to the development of MDR-TB. For decades, individuals infected with tuberculosis have either been given wrong medications or wrong doses, and failed to complete their treatment.

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