Drug resistant tuberculosis can be controlled, says WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) has for the first time assembled hard evidence that the emergence of drug resistant tuberculosis can be held back by properly controlled treatment programmes.
It warns, however, that the “window of opportunity” to prevent the spread of drug resistant strains will be missed if urgent action is not taken to persuade more health authorities and doctors to use its recommended treatment strategy, which still reaches only 1 in 5 patients with tuberculosis worldwide.
The warning comes in a global report released this week on World Tuberculosis Day at a ministerial summit in Amsterdam. It shows a disturbingly high prevalence of drug resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in parts of eastern Europe and Asia.
By contrast, countries that have used the recommended treatment strategy tend to have very low rates of resistance. “We only see significant drug resistance in countries without good control programmes,” said Dr