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WHO: Drug-resistant tuberculosis poses serious global health threat

WHO: Drug-resistant tuberculosis poses serious global health threat
March 02
15:55 2017

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is a dire need for research and development of new antibiotics to tackle the threat of drug-resistant tuberculosis.

WHO says that in the past 50 years, only two new antibiotics addressing drug-resistant tuberculosis have made it to the third phase of trials.

“These medicines are now tested on patients to assess efficacy, effectiveness and safety, and will still have to pass the final stage before they can be sold,” the organisation said in a statement released on its website.

“Addressing drug-resistant tuberculosis research is a top priority for WHO and for the world,” said Margaret Chan, WHO director-general.


“More than $800 million per year is currently necessary to fund badly needed research into new antibiotics to treat tuberculosis.”

According to WHO, “Drug-resistant tuberculosis is a condition in which the disease-causing organism is resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampin, the two most potent tuberculosis drugs.

“There were an estimated 580,000 cases and 250,000 related deaths in 2015, about 14 per cent of all tuberculosis-related deaths for the year. Only 125,000 were started on treatment, and just half of those people were cured.”


Ban Ki-moon, former secretary general of United Nations, had in September 2016 warned of drug-resistant tuberculosis in 105 countries.

“The disease is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs. However, second-line treatment options are limited and require extensive chemotherapy (up to two years of treatment) with medicines that are expensive and toxic,” WHO said in the statement.

“A series of high-level global meetings on tuberculosis have been scheduled. Drug-resistant tuberculosis and research will be major themes at the WHO conference in Moscow this coming November. It will also be a key agenda item at the UN General Assembly high-level meeting on tuberculosis in 2018.”


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