Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Rates At High

Armen Hareyan's picture


World Health Organization reports highest rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis worldwide, even in countries with professional treatment, such as US and other Western nations.

WHO team examined drug-resistant tuberculosis database from 2002 to 2006 and found the disease reached 20% in some countries.

The report examined only the half of countries. If the report included every single country, the picture would be even more emerging. For example, only 6 African countries provided data for the report. In Africa drug-resistant tuberculosis is very widespread and is just as lethal as AIDS. Too many African patients are missing in this report.


About 9 million people are tuberculosis diagnosed annually worldwide. 5% or 500000 of these cases are drug-resistant. Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is another strain of the disease that is found in 45 countries. It specially hits poor countries, for example, in Africa it spread very quickly in AIDS patients and killed nearly everyone within two weeks in 2006.

WHO report found the highest rates of the disease in eastern Europe: 25% of all tuberculosis cases in Azerbaijan, 20 % of cases in Moldova, 26% of cases in Ukraine are drug-resistant. High rates are also recorded in China and India. Even US has higher rates than expected: 1.2% of all cases are multi-drug-resistant, 1.9% of these cases are reported as extensively drug-resistant.

WHO calls health officials and scientists to make tuberculosis treatment an important issue and prevent drug-resistant strains from developing and mutating. WHO urges for immediate actions to protect public health from this life threatening disease.

Scientists are already developing modern diagnostic tests to identify the disease sooner. Current diagnostic tests are very slow, they take about a month to diagnose a patient. A new test that takes only a day to diagnose is participating in an African trial. If the trial succeeds, it will be a huge step forward for scientists.

Ten years ago it was hard to imagine that tuberculosis will become such a threat to public health. However, public health is now facing a serious problem, because drug-resistant tuberculosis is much more dangerous than HIV. People will be unable to protect themselves by taking curtain actions against the disease. Everyone will be at risk while sitting next to someone infected.


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