Drug-Resistant TB Underdiagnosed

At least three-quarters of drug-resistant tuberculosis cases have not been detected, according to the World Health Organization.  

By | October 25, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, YALE ROSENThe World Health Organization's latest Global Tuberculosis Report is a mix of good and bad news. On the bright side, the rate of new tuberculosis (TB) cases and the percentage of people who die from the disease has continued to decline. Although 8.6 million people developed TB in 2013 and 1.3 million died from it, the mortality rate is almost half of what it was in 1990. Still, “the debt toll of tuberculosis, a disease that is preventable and curable, is far too high,” Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO Global TB program, told reporters.

The bad news, according to WHO's report, is that multi-drug resistant TB cases are largely flying under the radar. Less than 25 percent of drug resistant cases have been detected in 2012. In a statement, Grania Brigden, the TB Advisor for Doctors Without Borders, said that improved diagnostic technology has greatly improved doctors' ability to detect cases. But “with three in four people with [drug resistant]-TB still not properly diagnosed, and 17,000 of those diagnosed not started on treatment, we are still very far away from making real progress against this killer disease.”

According to Reuters, Raviglione said that limited resources are a hurdle to getting more people diagnosed and treated. Furthermore, “we have patients diagnosed but not enough drug supplies or trained people to treat them,” he said.

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