Today as the world marks the world TB day activists worldwide are worried that 75 million people will die from Multi Drug resistant Tuberculosis and cost the global economy a cumulative 5 trillion dollars.
Of the 15 000 new cases of Drug-Resistant TB diagnosed in South Africa every year, only about half get onto treatment.
Activists are saying that the disease threatens to shrink the world economy by 0.63 percent annually if left untreated.
The UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Tuberculosis (APPG TB) is urging governments to do more to improve research and cooperation in fighting Multi drug resistatnt TB.
The rising global burden of multidrug-resistant TB and other drug-resistant infections will come at a human and economic cost which the global community simply cannot afford to ignore.
The bacteria that cause TB can develop resistance to drugs used to cure the disease. Multidrug-resistant TB fails to respond to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful anti-TB drugs, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Ignored for the past fifty years, the needs of patients suffering from tuberculosis are finally being addressed, especially for patients with a multi-drug resistant form of the disease, who can now hope to have access to effective treatments within the next few years.
Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is a major public health issue. Tuberculosis, or TB, is an infectious disease that is treated with antibiotics. But some bacteria have found ways to resist or fight off the drug due to incorrectly administered treatment.
When the two main antibiotics stop being effective against the disease, it is labelled multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB.
Some of the worst affected countries include, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belorussia, Bulgaria, Chine, DRC, Ethiopia, Estonia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.
Treatment lasts two years and patients take up to 14,600 pills… and have hundreds of injections. Treatment is successful in only 50% of cases, and causes severe side effects.
Each year, there are an estimated 450,000 new cases of MDR-TB. This is because the use of these drugs, still in the development phase, remains a long and complex process.
We still lack scientific information: how can the different drugs be combined to deliver effective treatment without causing serious side effects?This situation is set to change, thanks to a project bringing together MSF and two partners, and funded by Unitaid.
In 4 years time, in 16 countries, 2,600 patients with MDR-TB will have access to treatment that will include the new drugs. And clinical trials will determine which combination of drugs will deliver the best treatment.
By speeding up research, this project may provide hundreds of thousands of people access to effective treatment—the best way to stop the spread of the disease.