The World Health Organization on Drug-Resistant From of Tuberculosis

The Vancouver Sun reports on the most recent announcement of the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the dangerous multi-drug resistant strain of tuberculosis (MDR-TB) .

A report published Tuesday, Anti-Tuberculosis Drug Resistance in the World, is the largest survey to date on the scale of drug resistance in tuberculosis. It is based on information collected between 2002 and 2006 on 90,000 TB patients in 81 countries.

The organization [WHO] estimates there are nearly half a million new cases of multi-drug resistant TB every year.

“TB drug resistance needs a frontal assault. If countries and the international community fail to address it aggressively now we will lose this battle,” said WHO spokesman, Dr. Mario Raviglione. “In addition to specifically confronting drug-resistant TB and saving lives, programs worldwide must immediately improve their performance in diagnosing all TB cases rapidly and treating them until cured, which is the best way to prevent the development of drug resistance.”

The report also found that extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), a virtually untreatable form of the respiratory disease, has been recorded in 45 countries.

But the true scale of the problem, internationally, remains unknown. Only six countries in Africa – the region with the highest incidence of TB in the world – were unable to provide drug resistance data.

We’ll take a look at the global challenge posed by diseases such as TB in the last week of the semester.

UPDATE: The New York Times also has this story on its front page, with a photograph of a TB clinic in Sudan.

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