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TB Treatment Campaign Shows Accelerated Growth

TB Treatment Campaign Shows Accelerated Growth Worldwide - Un Health Report

With some 8.8 million new tuberculosis cases each year, about half of them infectious, the number of patients diagnosed and treated under DOTS, the most effective control strategy, is now rising much faster than at any time since its expansion in 1995, growing by 50 per cent in two years, according to a new United Nations report.

"DOTS' expansion is one of the major public health success stories of the past decade, one that is saving thousands more lives every day," UN World Health Organization ( WHO) Director-General Lee Jong-wook said of the strategy that includes directly observed treatment of patients taking anti-TB drugs, access to adequate drug supplies and monitoring and accountability for every patient diagnosed.

"But to reach the 2005 targets for detection and treatment, the challenge now is to add another 1 million TB patients to DOTS programmes each year. Many of these new cases will be recruited from the hospitals and private health sector in Asia, especially China, and from beyond the present limits of health systems in Africa," Dr. Lee added in presenting the study to the second Stop TB Partners' Forum in New Delhi.

The WHO's 2004 Global Tuberculosis Control report confirms that DOTS programmes are now treating 3 million patients every year, an increase of more than 1 million patients compared to just two years ago. That increase is nearly double the average annual increment of 270,000 patients during the previous six-year period.

India is leading the surge with more than a quarter of all additional DOTS cases being treated, followed by smaller but significant increases in five other key countries with high rates of TB: South Africa, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

The global 2005 targets for TB control are to detect 70 per cent of all infectious cases and cure 85 per cent of those cases. According to the report, the detection rate has risen to 37 per cent and cure rates to 82 per cent. Meeting the 2005 targets will put the world's TB control programmes on the path to achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the global TB burden by 2015.

The TB Partners' Forum is a periodic gathering of donors, technical agencies, NGOs and ministers from the 22 high-TB burden countries under the umbrella of the global Stop TB Partnership.

The report comes only a week after WHO warned that multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) was striking parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia 10 times more heavily than elsewhere in the world.

© Scoop Media

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