THE World Health Organisation (WHO) Western Pacific regional conference in HongKong last week was told that the drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), which is resistant to the two most powerful first-line anti-TB drugs, threatens efforts by member countries to implement the Stop TB Strategy and reduce the global burden of TB.
WHO regional director Dr Shin Young-soo revealed to participants that there were more than nine million new TB cases worldwide and half a million new cases of MDR-TB each yearówith the latter significantly more difficult and more costly to treat than drug-susceptible TB.
In the Western Pacific region, some 5000 new TB infections occur daily, and the situation is made worse by the added threat of multidrug-resistant TB.
Dr Young-soo added that since the Regional Committee declared a TB crisis in the Western Pacific in 1999, WHO member states have accelerated anti-TB activities, with the aim of reducing prevalence and mortality in half by 2010, based on 2000 levels.
TB prevalence dropped from 260 per 100,000 population in 2000 to 197 per 100,000 in 2007, according to the latest data.
During that same period, TB mortality decreased from 20 per 100, 000 to 16 per 100,000 people.
“Despite the gains, however, the decline has been too slow to meet the 2010 goal due to insufficient activities in addressing multidrug-resistant TB and collaborative activities for TB-HIV co-infection, limited access to newer and more sensitive tests for TB, inadequate infection control in health facilities as well as a drop in funding of technical assistance,” he added.
WHO urged member countries, especially those affected by MDR-TB, including extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB)ówhich is resistant to the most powerful second-line anti-TB drugsóto ensure that all bottlenecks in MDR-TB and XDR-TB control and patient care are tackled.
This will enable countries immediately to put into action the agreement made at a ministerial meeting in Beijing last April to scale up prevention and management of MDR-TB and XDR-TB.
Some US$ 1.2 billion (K3.2 billion) is required this year for the diagnosis and treatment of MDR-TB and XDR-TB patients, worldwide.
A further US$ 11 billion (K30 billion) is needed for 2010ñ2015, which does not cover out-of-pocket costs to patients and their families.