October 21, 2013

From Dr. Grania Brigden, TB Advisor for Médecins Sans Frontières’ Access Campaign:

"The global failure to scale-up diagnosis and treatment for drug-resistant TB is being paid for in lives. The horrific scale of preventable suffering and death caused by the spiralling DR-TB crisis must spur governments, donors and WHO to mobilise the political will and secure the funding, estimated at about $1.5 billion per year, to tackle this deadly epidemic head on.”

“MSF is finding alarming numbers of cases of DR-TB in many countries where we treat TB, in large part thanks to a breakthrough in diagnostic technology that reduces the turnaround for results from two months to two hours. It’s an important step that a better diagnostic tool has allowed almost twice as many DR-TB cases to be diagnosed globally in 2012 than in 2011, but with three in four people with DR-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.”

“What’s needed now is a two-pronged approach: we need a breakthrough in treatment options to transform DR-TB treatment from an agonizing, toxic and prohibitively expensive two-year ordeal, to a shorter, more tolerable, more effective and more affordable treatment course; and, we urgently need countries to be supported in scaling up DR-TB diagnosis and treatment programmes, including by fully funding the largest TB donor, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, so that lives can be saved today and the spread of the disease abated.”

MSF has been involved in TB care for 25 years. MSF started treating MDR-TB in 1999 and has grown to become one of the largest NGO providers of MDR-TB care. In 2012, MSF treated 29,000 patients for drug-sensitive TB in 30 countries, and 1,780 patients for drug-resistant TB in 18 countries.

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