MSF response to release of new WHO report on tuberculosis, which reveals growing drug-resistant TB emergency
Dr Grania Brigden, TB Advisor for Médecins Sans Frontières’ Access Campaign
"The WHO’s new Global Tuberculosis Report reinforces that multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is an escalating public health emergency, yet the global response is abysmal, with levels of testing and treatment remaining shockingly low. With barely one in twenty TB patients being tested for drug resistance, we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. Even if you are diagnosed and lucky enough to receive treatment for drug-resistant TB, it is appalling that you only have a 48% chance of being cured. We need more testing, we need more treatment and we need better drugs to make treatment more effective and more tolerable for patients.
"While we’ve had some success in decentralising and scaling-up treatment in our projects, we continue to struggle every day with inadequate tools and drugs to tackle the disease. Worryingly, we are seeing more and more patients directly contracting drug resistant strains of TB in some of the places where we work. This report shows that in seven former Soviet Union countries, 20% or more of new TB cases are multidrug-resistant.
"Luckily there is some good news, with new TB drugs on the horizon for the first time in nearly half a century. We need to introduce the new TB drugs effectively, so that governments and treatment providers have access to improved treatment options to scale-up their response to this increasingly alarming crisis."
MSF treated 26,600 TB patients in 39 countries in 2011, 1,300 of whom had drug-resistant forms of the disease.