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WHO urges more effort in fighting drug-resistant TB

source: By Masuzyo Chakwe

WORLD leaders need to step up their commitment and contributions to meet the goal of diagnosing and treating one million people with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) between 2011 and 2015, says global health organisations.

Commenting on the World TB Day which fell yesterday, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Stop TB Partnership called on world leaders to step up their commitment and contributions.

WHO yesterday released a report titled ‘Towards Universal Access to Diagnosis and Treatment of MDR-TB and XDR-TB by 2015’, which presents progress in the MDR-TB response in the countries with the highest burden of drug-resistant TB.
WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said many countries had made progress, but despite the recent scale up in efforts, the world needed to do much more to get care to all MDR-TB patients who need it.

“We cannot allow MDR-TB to spread unchecked,” she said.

Dr Chan said leaving MDR-TB untreated increased the risk of spreading drug resistant strains of tuberculosis and WHO estimates that there would be more than two million new cases of MDR-TB between 2011 and 2015.

It stated that it was anticipated that the Global Fund would provide 84 per cent of all international investments in tuberculosis in 2011.

However, it stated that both domestic and international resources need to be scaled up to cope with MDR-TB and continue to make progress in the fight against TB.

Global Fund executive director Professor Michel Kazatchkine said MDR-TB was a threat to all countries as it is difficult and expensive to treat.

“Unless we make an extraordinary effort to tackle this problem, our ability to finance and secure continued progress against TB in general will be threatened” said Prof Kazatchkine.

United Nations secretary general’s special envoy to stop TB Dr Jorge Sampaio said it was time for countries with rapidly growing economies and a heavy burden of MDR-TB to step up their commitment and financing for their own MDR-TB programmes.

Dr Sampaio said several had the capacity to show new leadership on south-south cooperation and aid to neighbouring countries that are also affected.
And Stop TB Partnership executive secretary Dr Lucica Ditiu said the Global Fund's success could be measured in the number of lives that had been saved through care provided by the TB programmes it finances.

“Every TB patient should have access to proper care. We advocate on behalf of millions of patients worldwide and our strong partners such as WHO and the Global Fund. To reach a million people with effective care for MDR-TB over the next five years, we will need to work closely with all partners, especially with affected communities,” said Dr Ditiu.

MDR-TB is a form of tuberculosis that fails to respond to standard first-line drugs.

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