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Global tuberculosis report calls multi-drug resistant tuberculosis a public health crisis

24 October 2013

On 23rd October the World Health Organisation published the Global Tuberculosis Report 2013. This report assesses progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals targets relating to tackling tuberculosis (TB), and identifies the top priority actions needed over the next two years to achieve them. One of the key findings of the report is that the world is far off-track to meet the targets for diagnosis and treatment of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). Worldwide and in most countries with a high burden of MDR-TB, less than 25% of the people estimated to have MDR-TB were detected in 2012. Only 51% of people diagnosed with TB in the Africa region were started on treatment for MDR TB in 2012.

Treating MDR-TB is difficult, as it requires a combination of several different drugs, and can take up to two years. Only 48% of people identified to have MDR-TB in 2010 were successfully treated, with many patients being lost to follow-up during the course of their treatment. Better, shorter treatment approaches are needed, to help reduce the number of people who do not complete their treatment. The STREAM trial is assessing whether a 9 month course of treatment using a combination of existing drugs is as effective as longer treatments for MDR-TB. If the new shorter drug regimen is successful it will make treating MDR-TB easier for both health systems and patients.

STREAM is currently taking place in Ethiopia, South Africa and Vietnam.