A World Health Organization expert called for greater access to a new diagnostic tool for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in the Western Pacific and southeast Asia. The new diagnostic tool reduces the time needed to detect MDR-TB from eight weeks to two hours.
Drug-resistant TB emerges when patients fail to follow treatment regimens, take substandard drugs or stop treatment too early. Patients with MDR-TB can then transmit the disease to others.
According to the WHO, there are 120,000 new cases of MDR-TB in the Western Pacific each year, which makes up 28 percent of the global caseload. Combined with cases in southeast Asia, all MDR-TB cases in Asia make up 58 percent of the global caseload.
Number of drug-resistant TB cases, 2007
- India – 131,000
- China – 112,000
- Russia – 43,000
- Bangladesh – 15,000
- South Africa – 16,000
TB killed 1.8 million people across the world in 2008, or a person every 20 seconds. It is not only a scourge in poor countries but also in the West, where it has flared anew in the last 20 years because of AIDS, which weakens the immune system.
Filed under: Asia, Commentary on news & events, Public health Tagged: | access to medicines, Asia, China, counterfeit medicines, drug resistance, global health, India, tuberculosis, World Health Organization